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NHA/Washington Update - Statistics Lie
April 06, 2007 04:57 PM
The mass media targets antioxidants with misleading stats.
The smear campaign against nutritional supplements continues in 2007, with headlines such as the following: “Antioxidants Don’t help You Live Longer,” “Antioxidants Might be Dangerous,” “Antioxidants Do Not Prevent Disease and May Increase Mortality.” Do you notice a theme? Antioxidants are the latest target for media manipulators seeking to steer the public away from life-enhancing nutrition.
The study that spawned these alarmist headlines, first published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is a “meta-analysis”; this means it draws its conclusions from a number of different studies. In this case, 68 studies involving 232,606 people were analyzed. Meta-analyses are an example of how easily statistics can lie.
Like 2004’s infamous vitamin E-bashing meta-analysis (which proclaimed vitamin E to be deadly, even though it focused on elderly patients who were already stricken with disease), the recent meta-analysis of antioxidants has a preordained outcome—results are determined by which studies are chosen for analysis. Experts have pointed out significant flaws in the execution of this meta-analysis; for example, it includes studies that administered many different combinations of antioxidants, and in varying doses. In addition, these Hitler-skelter antioxidants and dosages are scattered across a wide range of people, everyone from male doctors to elderly nursing home patients. Finally, this meta-analysis neglected to include the most significant antioxidant study ever conducted in its findings. The china study, which in surveying 800 million people was one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind, verified antioxidants effectiveness in fighting cancer, heart disease and stroke. Why was it not included in the meta-analysis?
Even a junior high school science student would question this meta-analysis’s statistical significance. So how can mass media transform this flawed study into headlines that proclaim antioxidants will kill you?
The answer is because the media gets away with it. In our fast paced world, where celebrity rehab stints are front page news, fact-driven journalism is fading—and distracted news readers are enabling its demise. The solution? Consider media reports with awareness and intelligence, and never assume that headlines speak truthfully.
The recent antioxidant bashing study crumbles when subjected to awareness and intelligence. In addition to the obvious study flaws, and even more telling: stories coving the study with headlines proclaiming “antioxidants may increase mortality” are grievously misleading; as it turns out, the study did not identify any causes of death—which were surely diverse given that the study tracked over 200,000 diverse people. Believe the headlines, however, an antioxidants causing all the deaths when in fact they probably caused none—an example of the absurd “association with out causation” logic that may destroy our right to take safe, natural supplements.
Continue investigating and you will find that Denham Harman, MD, PhD, the “father of the free radical theory of aging,” antioxidants pioneer and professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is able-bodied and active at age 91. Harman takes antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium daily—a revelation with more credibility than any antioxidant bashing hatchet-job study.
Educate yourself about antioxidants and other supplements that Congress is trying to take away from you. Fight to keep your health under your own control, always. Patronize the natural health food store that are committed to providing you with quality products and reliable knowledge. For more information, visit www.nha2007.com