Vitamin pills are a waste of money, offer no health benefits and could be harmful – study

Evidence from the study suggested that ‘supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults…has no clear benefit and might even be harmful’

Vitamin pills are a waste of money, usually offer no health benefits and could even be harmful, a group of leading scientists has said.

A study of nearly 500,000 people, carried out by academics from the University of Warwick and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA, has delivered a damning verdict on the claims made by the vitamin supplement industry.

Evidence from the study suggested that “supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults…has no clear benefit and might even be harmful”, despite one in three Britons taking vitamins or mineral pills.

According to The Times, scientists involved in the study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that companies selling supplements were fuelling false health anxieties to offer unnecessary cures. The industry in the UK is thought to be worth more than £650 million annually.

Researchers declared ‘case closed’ on the vitamin and mineral pills after making their conclusion based on the study of half-a-million people along with three separate research papers.

Evidence from the study suggested that

Evidence from the study suggested that “supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults…has no clear benefit and might even be harmful”, despite one in three Britons taking vitamins or mineral pills.

One of the research papers involved the retrospective study of 24 previous trials. In total 450,000 people were involved in the trials and the paper concluded that there was no beneficial effect on mortality from taking vitamins.

Another examined 6,000 elderly men and found no improvement on cognitive decline after 12 years of taking supplements, while a third saw no advantage of supplements among 1,700 men and women with heart problems over an average study of five years.

The experts said most supplements should be avoided as their use is not justified, writing: “These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.”

The scientists argued that the average Western diet is sufficient to provide the necessary vitamins the body needs.

Edgar Miller, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said: “There are some that advocate we have many nutritional deficiencies in our diet. The truth is though we are in general overfed, our diet is completely adequate.”

He added: “These companies are marketing products to us based on perceptions of deficiencies. They make us think our diet is unhealthy, and that they can help us make up for these deficiencies and stop chronic illnesses.

“The group that needs these is very small. It’s not the general population.”

Dr Miller continued: “There’s something for everything: preventing joint pains, stopping heart disease. If you’re going to spend your money on something every month, is this really the best option?”

The NHS advised recently that other than women taking folic acid to help them conceive and the elderly and children under five benefiting from vitamin D, supplementary vitamins would be surplus to that already gained through diet, The Times said.

The Health Food Manufacturers’ Association said vitamin supplements provided people with “nutritional insurance”.

In July 2011 the Advertising Standards Agency criticised Vitabiotics Ltd for an advert headlined: ‘Advanced Nutrients For The Brain’.

They ruled that the implied claims that “recent research had shown that B vitamins could help maintain brain function and performance’ were not substantiated and were “misleading”.

For Some, Another Costly Delay in Implementing Part of the Affordable Care Act.

The Obama administration has deferred for a year putting into place a provision of the Affordable Care Act that limits an individual’s annual out-of-pocket expenditures to $6350.

Some patients will have to pay up to $6350 for physician and hospital services, plus another $6350 for prescription drugs — and possibly more, according to the New York Times.

Why the delay? The Times explains that separate computer billing systems for drugs and services within some organizations cannot communicate. One unnamed administration source told the newspaper: “We had to balance the interests of consumers with the concerns of health plan sponsors and carriers, which told us that their computer systems were not set up to aggregate all of a person’s out-of-pocket costs. They asked for more time to comply.”

In addition, last month the administration announced a delay in the requirement that large employers offer health insurance to full-time employees.

Source: New York Times

Scientists create replacement organs using body’s own cells.

One of the problems of organ transplants is the potential for the body to reject the foreign organ. For this reason, organ donor recipients have to take drugs that suppress the immune system.

Scientists are having preliminary success with a new way to get patients new organs that they may need: bioartificial organs made of plastic and the patient’s own cells.

So far, only a few such organs have been created and transplanted, and the they aren’t complex organs — just simples one like bladders and a windpipe. But, the New York Times reports, scientists are working on creating more complex organs such as kidneys and livers with these techniques.

A windpipe made to order

The Times article features the case of Andemariam Beyene, whose doctors discovered a golf ball-sized tumor growing in his windpipe two-and-a-half years ago. When he was nearly out of options for treatment, he went to see Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who suggested making Mr. Beyene a windpipe out of plastic and his own cells.

In order to make it, Dr. Macchiarini began by using a porous, fibrous plastic to make a copy of Mr. Beyene’s windpipe. He then seeded it with stem cells from Mr. Beyene’s bone marrow and placed the windpipe in an incubator that spun the windpipe “rotisserie-style,” says the Times, in a nutrient solution.

Then, he substituted that in for Mr. Beyene’s cancerous windpipe.

Fifteen months after surgery, Mr. Beyene is cancer-free.

The blueprint

Scientists are looking to nature to guidance on how to create these bioartificial organs.

In Dr. Macchiarini’s lab, a researcher named Philipp Jungebluth took a heart and lungs from a rat and put them in a glass jar. A detergent-like liquid connected via tube dripped into the jar and out, slowly stripping the organs of their living cells. After all the cells were gone (in three days), what was left of the organs was the scaffold, the basic shape of the organ, composed of a matrix of proteins and other compounds that keep the right cells in the right places.

Human scaffolds could be better for building new organs than synthetic scaffolds that just try to imitate nature. For example, donor lungs could be stripped of cells and re-seeded with a patient’s own cells before implantation.

Dr. Macchiarini has used scaffolds to successfully replace windpipes from cadavers in about a dozen patients who don’t have the major problem facing other organ donor recipients: the risk of organ rejection.

But scaffolds still have some problems of traditional organ transplants: They require donor organs, for which there is a long waiting list, and the patient has to wait for the organ to be stripped of cells. Also, when it comes to windpipes, a donated windpipe may not be the right size. For that reason, Mr. Beyene’s windpipe, made of the plastic replica of his own windpipe, fit perfectly.

Dr. Macchiarini is looking at future improvements on this still preliminary work: The Times reports that someday, re-seeding the cells of a new organ may not take place outside the body:

“Instead, he envisions developing even better scaffolds and implanting them without cells, relying on drugs to stimulate the body to send cells to the site. His ultimate dream is to eliminate even the synthetic scaffold. Instead, drugs would enable the body to rebuild its own scaffold.”

“Don’t touch the patient,” Dr. Macchiarini told The Times. “Just use his body to recreate his own organ. It would be fantastic.”

Source: The New York Times /Smart planet

St. Jude’s Riata Defibrillator Leads Again Under the Spotlight .

Patients may have concerns about their cardiac devices after reading a front-page New York Times story about St. Jude Medical‘s embattled Riata defibrillator leads. The leads were recalled in 2011 over the risk for failure associated with lead insulation abrasion.

The Times describes the dilemma now faced by cardiac device specialists and patients: take a potentially faulty lead out, or leave it in? Both strategies carry their own risks, the Times notes, although the FDA advises against preemptive lead removal. A study by the manufacturer suggests that 19% of Riata leads show signs of failing.

In August, the FDA recommended imaging studies for patients with Riata leads to check for possible failures. A specialist practicing near Chicago told the Times he was unaware of the FDA’s action until a reporter told him about it, adding that a St. Jude representative failed to mention the new guidance during a discussion late that month.

Source: New York Times