About Those Health “News” Articles…
Sometimes popular media news articles are more confusing than helpful!
By Dr. Myatt
When it comes to “News” articles found in the popular press, all is not always as it seems – many of these articles are written by well-meaning but otherwise ill-informed reporters who often have minimal knowledge of medicine, biochemistry, or even how to critically read a medical paper. This causes people no end of worry, as this exchange with “Jenny” demonstrates.
Jenny wrote to ask:
I am trying to stay away from large doses of E because I am afraid that E feeds blood vessels that might feed cancer tumors. My friend’s oncologist told her to stop taking E for this reason. A little E is ok for me, but is there any way that I can order CoQ10 without E on your website??
I wrote back to Jenny:
You can order Vitaline CoQ10 with or without E. Here is a link to the Vitaline page.
I teach doctors in the field of holistic oncology and have never seen any credible evidence that vitamin E causes a problem or increases the spread of cancer. If you have any medical journal citation or other credible evidence besides “an oncologist said…,” I’d be most appreciative if you could forward it to me.
A ketogenic diet is the single most powerful tool for controlling cancer. I have stage IV cancer patients alive and well WAY beyond what is usually expected, including several doctor patients, because of this diet.
Jenny wrote back to take me up on my request for credible evidence against the use of vitamin E and to provide some further background information regarding her concerns:
Congratulations on extending the life of very sick people. I know that these patients and their families very much appreciate your talents beyond what they could ever express.
The oncologist was associated with the Swedish Medical Center Cancer Institute here in Seattle. My friend had nasal esphophgeal cancer.
I have read other articles regarding breast cancer and lung cancer and vitamin E. A very, very recent study was conducted at the University of Washington and concluded in Feb 2010. Below are some of the articles I have seen….since estrogen receptor positive breast cancer runs on both sides of my family, I am nervous about encouraging any type of cancer, particularly that form. I did read an article about how vitamin E PREVENTS estrogen receptor positive cancer…but then I see other articles about a correlation between high doses of vitamin E and cancer….so I am one confused woman…I don’t know whether to stop eating soy too for this very reason. I much prefer it to killing animals just so I can eat.
BTW, thank you so much for making the CoQ10 available and affordable. After I started taking it, I noticed my cognitive abilities improving significantly. I have significant visual snow and visual disturbances that never go away, and what my docs call “persistent migraine aura without headache”. Brain fog and tinnitus are associated with the condition. the CoQ10 got rid of the brain fog (but none of the other symptoms), and I want to take higher doses to see if it will help with my other symptoms, hence my request for CoQ10 without Vitamin E.
Jenny included links to several articles which damned the use of vitamin E. Here is what I had to say about that:
Thanks for your info. “Credible” being the keyword to watch for. Many lay publications (most, in fact), do a miserable job of reporting what the actual medical studies say. I don’t think journalists even do research these days!
For example, the “VITAL” study quoted in the “vitamin E and lung cancer” article did not examine vitamin E AT ALL. The only mention of vitamin E in this study was to quote a previous study, the CARET study. The VITAL study looked only at beta carotene, lutein, lycopene and retinol. Unless my medical password is needed, here is the original article: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/709053
SO, the VITAL article reported in the “The Daily” is 100% phonus balonus (that’s Latin for phoney baloney ), but it’s a classic example of how the actual studies get twisted when they are reported in the lay news.
The second study cited does not say that vitamin E increases risk of cancer; it says the study found “no effect” (no benefit), but also no hazard.
The third citation isn’t a study, it’s comment on the first study (VITAL) which did NOT even look at vitamin E!
This is a good example of how, if one wrong thing gets commented on the internet, the same wrong thing can then be repeated a thousand times. A falsehood is still a falsehood no matter how many times it is repeated. But when one doesn’t realize that the original report was false, the many additional comments can lend a false legitimacy.
Numerous studies have found benefit in taking all antioxidants including vitamin E. Several studies that found a possible inverse effect used dl-tocopherol, an unnatural form of vitamin E that interferes with the body’s use of the 8 other forms of naturally-occurring vitamin E.
It is difficult if not impossible for a layman to make sense of medical studies, especially when they are twisted all out of shape as reported in the media. No wonder my cancer patients, including a number of physicians, reply on my team and I to read the actual medical studies and make comment for them!
Now, this is such a good example of how confused people can be over bad journalism that I should probably use our back-and-forth in an upcoming edition of HealthBeat News. It may very well save some other unsuspecting patient from making themselves crazy over trying to make sense of conflicting information!
There is nothing in any of the articles you sent which should make you afraid of vitamin E. I’m not trying to convince you to take it, just hoping to help you understand how better to read and interpret medical studies.
For best information, always try and read the actual original medical study, not the media’s reporting of it. Again, they usually do a shameful job when it comes to translating what the studies really found.
For additional information about substances that have been well-proven to aid in cancer control, please visit our cancer page.
I teach doctors in the field of oncology. If my work wasn’t well-researched and supported by the medical literature, rest assured they would eat me alive during a presentation!
Once more with feeling: please remember that supplements are just that – supplemental in the treatment of cancer. A ketogenic diet should be the primary method of treatment and prevention, supplements are the adjunct. And if you don’t have cancer and are simply interested in prevention, that should be a slam-dunk. A diet low in carbs, or even ketogenic if you have weight to lose, is your best (and breast!) friend. I mention weight because fat cells manufacture estradiol, a known risk factor for many cancers, not just breast cancer. Maintain a normal weight if breast cancer prevention is your aim.
P.S. Just got an email this evening from my patient with metastasized liver cancer. Her lab values (liver function tests, hs-CRP, ferritin) all continue to improve and are handily within the normal range, down from sky-high in Sept. Her Yale University doctors are pleased but still wondering what in the heck happened! One of our major treatment strategies for her is the use of metabolic ketosis to starve her cancer.
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