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Some Vitamin Supplements Increase Death Risk Say Researchers
MedicalNewsToday ^ | 2/28/07 | Catharine Paddock

Posted on 02/28/2007 2:45:16 AM PST by XR7

Vitamin supplements taken by millions of people every day for their health could be increasing their risk of death a new Danish-led study suggests.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The international research team reviewed the published evidence on beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin E, Vitamin C and selenium. The team was led by Dr Goran Bjelakovic, from Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark.

These dietary supplements are marketed as antioxidants and people take them in the hope they will improve health and guard against diseases like cancer and heart disease by eliminating the free radicals that cause "oxidative stress" and damage and kill off cells.

Antioxidants are also marketed as anti-aging products because they are thought to slow down the aging process.

Some studies have suggested that antioxidants are beneficial to health, while others, mostly larger clinical trials, have concluded they have no effect on health and say in some cases that taking too many of them can be harmful.

In this study, Dr Bjelakovic and colleagues did a meta-analysis on research published before October 2005.

Meta-analysis is a way of sifting through published studies against a quality standard that looks at a number of reliability criteria such as potential for bias. Then the ones that pass the standard are taken through a statistical process to find out if they are saying something consistently reliable. There can be several levels of "sifting", each producing a more reliable and robust set of evidence.

In this case the researchers followed a method established by the Cochrane Collaboration, a group of 6,000 health care specialists who review biomedical trials and other research projects.

They started with 815 clinical trials of which 68 passed the first level of quality standard. At this level the results were inconclusive. The supplements were found to have no effect on death risk one way or the other.

They then went back and eliminated 21 of the trials, leaving only the "low-bias" ones. This was the next level of quality standard.

At this level of meta-analysis the results were different.

When looked at separately they found that Vitamin A increased death risk by 16 per cent, beta carotene by 7 per cent and Vitamin E by 4 per cent. The results for Vitamin C were not so clear, but by looking at the best quality trials there was a suggestion that it increased death risk by 6 per cent, either on its own or in combination with other supplements.

The figures from the best quality trials on selenium however showed that it might reduce death risk by 10 per cent, either on its own or in combination with other supplements, but this was not found to be statistically significant.

The overall conclusion of the study was that on balance, the best quality research shows that beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E may increase mortality risk, but vitamin C and selenium need further study.

A spokesperson for the supplements industry said the research was "flawed" because it included studies conducted on people who were already very sick.

The researchers say there are several potential reasons for these results. One is that the free radicals that are thought to cause the oxidative stress are the byproduct rather than the cause of disease. Another is that they may play an important role in the immune system and eliminating them could be counterproductive.

The researchers pointed out that the studies they examined only used synthetic supplements, and therefore their observations and conclusions do not apply to natural antioxidants such as those found in fruit and vegetables.

They added however that this study is important for public health reasons because between 10 and 20 per cent of people in Europe and North America take dietary supplements.

Nutritionists say that instead of taking supplements the best way to protect your health is to eat a balanced diet and to get all the vitamins you need from your food.

"Mortality in Randomized Trials of Antioxidant Supplements for Primary and Secondary Prevention; Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." Goran Bjelakovic, Dimitrinka Nikolova, Lise Lotte Gluud, Rosa G. Simonetti, and Christian Gluud. JAMA 2007;297:842-857. Vol. 297 No. 8, February 28, 2007


TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: aging; bigbusiness; death; doctors; dying; endoflife; habits; health; healthcare; longevity; medicine; metaanalysis; mortality; myths; naturopathic; nutrition; prevention; prvention; quackery; quacks; ripoffs; scams; supplements; vitamins
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They added however that this study is important for public health reasons because between 10 and 20 per cent of people in Europe and North America take dietary supplements.

It's big business, and there's lots of money to be made scaring folks - just like hillary Care, global warming, etc. Take a few pills everyday and you'll never get old! Expect the vitamin companies to bury this story.

1 posted on 02/28/2007 2:45:18 AM PST by XR7
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To: XR7
I would equally expect the medical world to discount the benefits of herbal supplements over something created by Pfizer/Abbott/etc.

However, I am with you on the "take a few pills everyday...and everything will be rosey!" baloney. Nothing, herbal nor OTC/Rx, will fix what is bound to happen....like aging...can't escape it (darn it all!)

2 posted on 02/28/2007 2:50:13 AM PST by ZinGirl
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To: XR7

Watch out, this is Teddy Kennedy's cue to try for a national ban on supplements. He does that every few years.

Let's see him try to ban scotch...


3 posted on 02/28/2007 3:01:12 AM PST by RightOnTheLeftCoast ([Hunter/Rumsfeld 2008!])
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To: XR7

The problem is not with supplements themselves, but rather in taking them in such large doses.

The average American simply doesn't eat well enough to get the US RDA of certain vitamins and minerals. Modest supplementation is seen as the 'cost' of our rather nasty daily eating habits.

When you get into trouble is when you 'megadose' on them. The belief that 'if one is good, two is better' is common and is what leads to trouble.

For example, vitamins such A and E are fat soluable, which means that they stay in your body for extended periods of time. If you're storing more than your body requires, this can lead to problems.

The key is moderation.


4 posted on 02/28/2007 3:06:57 AM PST by MDspinboyredux
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To: XR7

I'd guess that sick people are more likely to take supplements, so, naturally, people that take supplements are at increased risk. What is the evidence of causality?


5 posted on 02/28/2007 3:10:06 AM PST by rightwingcrazy
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To: ZinGirl

I'm planning on escaping aging, what have I got to lose....:-)! Here is some support for this plan.

Indefinite lifespan can be achieved by 2020, experts say
By Futuretalk

“Your monthly body scan reveals damaged heart muscles, placing you at risk for a heart attack. No problem – your doctor prescribes a “supersonic drug gun” that propels regenerative protein molecules into the bloodstream. The new materials immediately bind to damaged heart-muscle cells, touching off a chemical reaction that prompts your body to make new cells, restoring you to perfect health.”

Though this scenario may sound like science fiction, it’s not. Hydra Biosciences’ Glenn Larsen says his company has already demonstrated successful experiments of this procedure with rats, and they hope to gain approval for human trials “within a few years.”

This futuristic technology falls under the heading of regenerative medicine, which researchers believe can one day be harnessed to regenerate every failing tissue, bone, and organ in the human body.

“Derived from biology, biochemistry, physics, engineering and other disciplines, this new field has the potential to extend healthy human life indefinitely”, says stem cell biologist Atilla Chordash. By as early as mid-2020s, forward-thinkers believe that regenerative medicine could eliminate nearly all diseases – even aging. The leading causes of death in the future will be from accidents, crime, and wars.

The U.S. government agrees with this upbeat assessment. A recent report declared the next evolution of healthcare to be regenerative medicine. This announcement prompted officials to create the Federal Initiative for Regenerative Medicine (FIRM), with the aggressive goal of providing tissues and organs “on demand” for every American by as early as 2020.

Beyond the obvious health benefits of regenerative medicine, this technology is desperately needed to combat rising medical expenses, which today totals $1.5 trillion annually. FIRM hopes to provide direction and resources for this wonder technology and allow private industry to focus on developing products that will lower the nation’s healthcare costs.

Commerce drives this revolutionary industry forward, with over 200 companies worldwide creating products. Revenues totaled only $16.5 million in 2006, but according to a report from the second annual Stem Cell Summit Conference in San Diego, are expected to skyrocket to $8.5 billion by 2015.

How about today’s humans – will this wonder technology arrive in time to benefit us? In his recent book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, Futurist Ray Kurzweil explains how we can “bootstrap” our way to an indefinite lifespan by maintaining good health today, then letting biotech and nanotech miracles rejuvenate our bodies and minds over the next two decades.

Advocates believe that now is the time to embrace this technology by creating a framework for the next generation of healthcare. By doing so, America can make tissue and organ failure a relic of its ancient past.

Will an indefinite life span ever become reality? Experts say it will. To stay alive is a basic human drive, a precondition for all other activities. Life-extension is the natural progression of medicine, from slowing down diseases and the effects of aging, to preventing them altogether. It even follows instructions laid down by most religions: “Human life is sacred and should be cherished and preserved.”

So, get ready for an incredible era that will add many healthy and exciting years to your life. Enjoy what promises to be a most “magical future.”


6 posted on 02/28/2007 3:16:20 AM PST by Ron/GA
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To: XR7
Guess I should be dead. Take many antioxidants. 1200 IU vitamin E & 3 mg vitamin C daily for ~30 years, etc. Used to lecture on nutrition & wrote 3-part nutrition series for a local newspaper. Maybe I'll be in the next study ;-)


7 posted on 02/28/2007 3:18:46 AM PST by pookie18 ([Hillary Rotten] Clinton Happens...as does Dr. Demento Dean, Bela Pelosi & Benedick Durbin!!)
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To: XR7

people taking antioxidants do not oxidize [or rust] properly and are prone to accumulation of deadwood, forest fires and spontaneous combustion.


8 posted on 02/28/2007 3:51:15 AM PST by GSlob
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To: MDspinboyredux
The average American simply doesn't eat well enough to get the US RDA of certain vitamins and minerals.

My diet is fairly healthy if you don't count the Little Debbie Nutty Bars. I have to take a B-complex vitamin two or three times a week. If I don't sores will develop at the corners of my mouth.

9 posted on 02/28/2007 3:54:46 AM PST by barker ( A smile is a curved line that sets things straight.)
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To: RightOnTheLeftCoast
Watch out, this is Teddy Kennedy's cue to try for a national ban on supplements. He does that every few years. Let's see him try to ban scotch...

It'll never happen.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
10 posted on 02/28/2007 4:01:49 AM PST by mkjessup (If Reagan were still with us, he'd say "Chairman Martinez? Tear DOWN those RINOS!")
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To: XR7

I keep a tin can next to the computer and lick it whenever I feel an iron deficiency. It also stops rust from forming on my eyelids. And after I lick a hole in the can, I feed it to my goat.

I'm in perfect harmonic convergence with Gaia and Gore.


11 posted on 02/28/2007 4:13:07 AM PST by sergeantdave (Consider that nearly half the people you pass on the street meet Lenin's definition of useful idiot)
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To: Ron/GA
nah...too involved. I'll stick with alcohol. ;)

(who wants to live forever, anyway? crikey....how annoying....I know I'd end up killing myself...or at least trying!)

12 posted on 02/28/2007 4:17:56 AM PST by ZinGirl
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To: XR7

I will continue to take my vitamins.

Keep in mind that the socialists in the EU are desperately trying to ban over the counter sales of vitamins.


13 posted on 02/28/2007 4:32:07 AM PST by Mr. Brightside
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To: XR7

"Meta-analysis is a way of sifting through published studies against a quality standard that looks at a number of reliability criteria such as potential for bias. Then the ones that pass the standard are taken through a statistical process to find out if they are saying something consistently reliable."

Wow! Meta-analysis looks to me to have incredible potential for being able to skew results in absolutely any preconceived direction.

By simply adjusting the "reliability criteria" until you have the studies you do not like thrown out you can produce results to please anyone willing to pay for your study.

We have not seen the last of "Meta-analysis".


14 posted on 02/28/2007 4:37:07 AM PST by rgboomers (This space purposely left blank)
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To: XR7
This "study" is intended to discredit the use of supplementation. I know I have cured my RA with supplements. That was after my doctor had me on a serious course with drugs.

I've seen similar results in others.

The truth is we're all going to die. I just want to stay as healthy as long as possible.

Last night I saw a friend who has had a bout with cancer. She told me of a treatment she had and she warned that if any doctor ever told me to do it, I should turn and run the other way.

Pharmaceutical drugs have caused far more harm than any nutritional supplements.

15 posted on 02/28/2007 4:42:30 AM PST by Conservativegreatgrandma
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To: XR7

Wake me when cigs are good for you!


16 posted on 02/28/2007 4:44:27 AM PST by Graymatter
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To: pookie18
The left just want to regulate and tax it. Democrats are dependent on large companies for money for their lobbyist.
17 posted on 02/28/2007 4:45:13 AM PST by bmwcyle (It is time to stop the left at the wall.)
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To: pookie18
I got to this stage in life without ever taking a HRT and also never having a hot flash. I credit the Vit E.

Vitamin C, along with other supplements, is great for treating joint pain. Instead of a chemical pain reliever, I pop a gram of Vit C. I am healthier for it.

18 posted on 02/28/2007 4:49:27 AM PST by Conservativegreatgrandma
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To: rightwingcrazy; XR7

Good point rwc, very possible skew on the results. Still we have this lovely chance to do a long-term experiment on natural selection, let's not blow it by informing the cohort.

FDA cannot regulate anything classed as a "supplement". Lots of boomers are becoming junior Ponce DeLeons looking for the fountain of youth. Too few of them took enough sciemce courses to apprehend that in the dose lies the poison (you'd really think as many of them as are buying into botox this lesson would be second nature, but go figure).

By all means, let's let a few million of them kill themselves using the "if a little is good, more must be better" theory. Maybe we should offer a mega-dose selenium supplement just to speed the process.

If this works out, it could be better than tobacco for relieving stress on Soc Sec and Medicaid, dead folk don't use benefits.


19 posted on 02/28/2007 4:56:32 AM PST by barkeep (Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc)
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To: Conservativegreatgrandma
Good for you!

I did my own study, interviewed myself & I was extremely happy with the results! BTW, I use supplementation as a preventative measure & not as a replacement for a poor diet. In addition, exercise is important to me. IOW, I try to live a healthy lifestyle.


20 posted on 02/28/2007 5:18:51 AM PST by pookie18 ([Hillary Rotten] Clinton Happens...as does Dr. Demento Dean, Bela Pelosi & Benedick Durbin!!)
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To: XR7

I intend to live forever. So far, so good. ~Steven Wright


21 posted on 02/28/2007 5:19:18 AM PST by vietvet67
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To: rightwingcrazy

ABSOLUTELY!!! The error I see in many medical papers is CAUSALITY. Sick people often try megadoses as medication. Just because there is correlation does not mean that supplements cause the increased mortality. The major drug companies have been on a campaign for decades against supplements because supplements supplant expensive prescription drugs. For example, I tore my achilles tendon while packing a friend's deer out of the mountains. My orthopods were unable to do anything for me. After 4 years of being incapacitated I heard about glucosamine-chondroitin; my torn tendon grew back in 3 months.


22 posted on 02/28/2007 5:24:52 AM PST by darth
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To: GSlob
So I can stop taking this?


23 posted on 02/28/2007 5:24:56 AM PST by Larry Lucido (Duncan Hunter 2008)
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To: rightwingcrazy

> I'd guess that sick people are more likely to take supplements, so, naturally, people that take supplements are at increased risk. What is the evidence of causality? <


Excellent point! And that's why one should always be skeptical of studies that aren't based on large, randomized samples and even better, a "double-blind" methodology.


24 posted on 02/28/2007 5:58:49 AM PST by Hawthorn
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To: sergeantdave
"I keep a tin can next to the..."

Ever considered going to the feed store and buying a mineral block to keep on your desk? Has more flavor than a tin can.

25 posted on 02/28/2007 6:32:15 AM PST by Deaf Smith
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To: XR7

The only proven miracle pill is good old aspirin.


26 posted on 02/28/2007 6:51:34 AM PST by The Great RJ ("Mir we bleiwen wat mir sin" or "We want to remain what we are." ..Luxembourg motto)
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To: XR7

The key is moderation. A little extra Vitamin C does you good, a lot can kill you.


27 posted on 02/28/2007 6:58:55 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: redgolum
The key is moderation. A little extra Vitamin C does you good, a lot can kill you.

Not really. There does not seem to be any fatal oral dose of Vitamin C.

28 posted on 02/28/2007 7:18:13 AM PST by denydenydeny ("We have always been, we are, and I hope that we always shall be detested in France"--Wellington)
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To: XR7
They then went back and eliminated 21 of the trials, leaving only the "low-bias" ones.

Isn't this saying, they threw out the studies that didn't back up their desired outcome?

29 posted on 02/28/2007 7:21:55 AM PST by aimhigh
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To: XR7

bump


30 posted on 02/28/2007 7:25:41 AM PST by GOPJ (Perverse incentives incentivize people to do perverse things.--- Freeper gridlock)
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To: XR7
The vitamin companies are big businesses, to be sure, but the pharmaceutical companies are bigger. These companies and the medical lobby would love to see vitamins and mineral supplements placed under greater restrictions and limited to prescriptions from doctors. In this fight against more power being assumed by Washington, we are fortunate in that many liberals use vitamins and supplements and will put pressure on their representatives to oppose taking them off the open market.

Now if large numbers of liberals would only start carrying firearms for their self-defense, the gun control crowd would be stymied. The Second Amendment would become as sacrosanct as the First Amendment, and authorities would have to strain to find some reason to ban private ownership of modern artillery and combat aircraft.

31 posted on 02/28/2007 7:48:25 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: aimhigh

Kinda like Gore throwing out the cold temperatures.


32 posted on 02/28/2007 7:52:26 AM PST by westmichman (They cried "Peace, peace," but there is no peace.)
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To: Wallace T.
You nailed it Wallace.

sw

33 posted on 02/28/2007 7:54:17 AM PST by spectre (Spectre's wife) (Duncan Hunter 08 "Will you join us"?)
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To: MDspinboyredux

but they say now that these 'free radical scavengers' do nothing really benificial . And, per usual, I just bought Vit A for the first time today cuz my eyes are getting bad, I get home and then see this article lol-


34 posted on 02/28/2007 9:01:04 AM PST by CottShop
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To: XR7

thanks, bfl


35 posted on 02/28/2007 11:08:12 AM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: MDspinboyredux

Next year, the research will show vitamins are good for you. Coffee will be bad, again, and tea will kill the kidneys. Every time I see counter research I wonder where the money goes. Moderation is the answer. Don't overdose on anything that is food based resources et al, and one will probably be OK>.


36 posted on 02/28/2007 11:52:15 AM PST by phillyfanatic
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To: XR7

Fish oil increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke and can interfere with blood clotting.


37 posted on 02/28/2007 11:53:43 AM PST by CholeraJoe ("The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord shall be born as the seventh month dies.")
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To: CholeraJoe

Sorry. Fish oil has been proven to have all kinds of benefits. To warn about fish oil and to ignore aspirin, etc. is absurd.


38 posted on 02/28/2007 3:39:18 PM PST by Conservativegreatgrandma
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To: XR7

I don't believe it.

The medical establishment doesn't want us treating ourselves.


39 posted on 02/28/2007 3:40:56 PM PST by pax_et_bonum (I will always love you, Flyer.)
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To: redgolum
I have done a lot of reading regarding intravenous Vit C. I am so convinced of it's value that I am looking for a practitioner who does it.

There is a well known clinic in Wichita that uses it a lot but that is seven hours from us.

There have been threads on FR regarding IV Vit C and cancer. If I get cancer I am not going to have chemo, etc. I'll do intravenouse Vit C and other alternative therapies. Johanna Budwig has an interesting diet. It seems to have legitimacy. Heat has shown to be promising.

40 posted on 03/01/2007 5:38:20 AM PST by Conservativegreatgrandma
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To: Conservativegreatgrandma
I have heard of IV Vit C also, but don't know of anyone who has done it. My father is a big vitamin guy. The stuff he made me drink down growing up would gag a maggot, but didn't hurt me. However, as a farmer, he also knew that to much is to much. You can get sick if you over do anything (including water).

What is interesting to me, is that the medical and pharmaceutical concerns are attacking the vitamin companies full bore, claiming they cause serious side effects. Which, when you compare what many common treatments do, are pretty minor.
41 posted on 03/01/2007 5:52:18 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Conservativegreatgrandma
Notwithstanding its proven benefits which I concede, it very clearly increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. (Kromann N, Green A. Epidemiological studies in the Upernavik District, Greenland. Acta Med Scand. 1980; 208: 401–406) cited in Circulation: 2002;106:2747.

Furthermore, case reports are beginning to emerge of uncontrollable hemorrhage during surgical procedures in persons taking greater than 1000mg daily. I am familiar with this phenomenon since I participated in the care of such a patient in January.

42 posted on 03/01/2007 6:09:18 AM PST by CholeraJoe ("The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord shall be born as the seventh month dies.")
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To: CholeraJoe

Are you suggesting Omega oils are more dangerous than aspirin? You take your aspirin, I'll take the Omega oils and we're both happy.


43 posted on 03/01/2007 7:05:23 AM PST by Conservativegreatgrandma
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To: XR7

The patented drug companies have a vested interest in destroying the supplement industry.

I've never been a big supplement guy. But, recently, my doctor put me on Lipitor, and I just didn't tolerate it well, and I stopped taking it several times. Finally, at the advice of my dad, I tried a supplement called Policosanol.

When I had my next lipids test, it was vastly improved. So, I think some of the supplements are worthwhile.


44 posted on 03/01/2007 7:12:44 AM PST by B Knotts (Newt '08! FReepmail me to get on the Newt '08 Ping List)
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To: Larry Lucido

"It's so tasty, too!"


45 posted on 03/01/2007 7:14:34 AM PST by B Knotts (Newt '08! FReepmail me to get on the Newt '08 Ping List)
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To: Conservativegreatgrandma
"Vitamin C, along with other supplements, is great for treating joint pain."

Everyday after work I feel like the Tin Man from the wizard of Oz. (when he is rusted still at the beginning of the movie) Aspirin helps but it seems like I get about the same relief from a quart of orange juice. I don't take any prescription pain meds or anything like that, after seeing some of the bizarre side effects of modern meds in my aged father. I plan to live forever on a carefully blended diet of coffee, ciggies and single malt scotch.
46 posted on 03/01/2007 7:45:38 AM PST by Freedom4US (u)
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To: Conservativegreatgrandma

I'm interested in knowing what supplements you take. Thanks.


47 posted on 03/01/2007 7:49:46 AM PST by toldyou (Forget the Joneses, I can't even keep up with this saga!)
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To: Conservativegreatgrandma
Did I even mention aspirin? Stop putting words in my mouth and stick to the facts.

And as for who takes what, I'm allergic to Aspirin and I take fish oil. If I were to have elective surgery, though, I'd stop it 3-4 weeks ahead. I had emergency surgery 2 years ago and bled more than expected.

48 posted on 03/01/2007 8:10:34 AM PST by CholeraJoe ("The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord shall be born as the seventh month dies.")
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To: Conservativegreatgrandma; All

My sister had psoriasis so bad that she could barely walk...it was especially severe on her feet. To look at her, you would never know since she was able to cover the areas that were affected.

For at least 10 years I suggested she take fish oils, flaxseed, or primrose oil. But she refused....she didn't believe in supplements.

I got a call from her about a month ago. She's been taken fish oil supplements, and the psoriasis is completely gone!


49 posted on 03/01/2007 8:12:51 AM PST by toldyou
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To: B Knotts

I think Lipitor is a statin drug. I would NEVER take one unless every safer, natural alternative had been tried. Besides there are those who claim cholesterol is not the cause of coronary artery disease anyway.


50 posted on 03/01/2007 9:27:15 AM PST by Conservativegreatgrandma
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