Category Archives: Debunking the Pseudoscience

Atricles debunking health claims. Don’t spend your hard earned money on snake-oil.

Do diet pills actually work?

Diet pill concept: How lazy can we get?

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The idea of losing weight fast is so appealing and generates the supplement industry countless millions of pounds every year. It plays so well into human nature. We are always looking for a quick fix.

Why change my lifestyle when I can just take these pills and melt away the fat?

However, the diet pill industry is not just a scam its a potentially fatal one. More than just a few people have died after taking diet pills filled with a re purposed herbicide known as DNP. All the victims were normal people, usually quite young, looking for a way to quickly drop a few pounds. What did they get for their cash? A gruesome end, which I cover further down the article. It’s tragic but unfortunately not that uncommon for people to literally die after taking dodging supplements and weight loss aids bought online. As I’ve said before, the supplement industry is poorly regulated and the internet is awash with scams that fall under the radar of law enforcement.

It has never been more important to be aware of what these sort of products contain and that you could be putting yourself in serious danger by buying into these ‘quick-fix’ ideas. I’ve written this article in the hope that you re-consider buying dubious items online that you intend to put into your body.

There is an important distinction to be made between ‘Diet Pills’ and ‘Anti-Obesity Pharmaceuticals’. Pharmaceutical drugs specifically designed to combat obesity often target receptors and systems involved in appetite control, fat deposition, blood glucose regualtion and energy expenditure. These drugs target important and delicate parts of your physiology and are designed and tested through a development process usually costing 10s of million of dollars. Obesity is big business after all. The compound I am working on during my PhD for example, currently falls into this category. It is a drug which mimics the actions of natural PYY in the body. PYY is released after we eat to signal us to stop eating. It is a very powerful anorectic hormone and induces the satiety response.

Diet pills on the other hand, tend to have far less or no developmental costs, are scams, are dangerous or have dubious science backing them up. Examples would be over the counter tablets or supplements bought online – Green Tea Extract, being a prime example, which I have written about extensively here. There is a big difference, of course, between diet pills that simply don’t work and pills which contain toxic chemicals, I talk about these dangerous pills a bit later on. The issue with cheap internet products is you simply never known for sure what is in the pill.

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Examples of diet pill and their physiological function

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Actual medications

Orlistat – A well known anti-obesity medication. Works by reducing intestinal fat absorption. The end result is that you poop out more fat. Due to the way it works, side effects are mainly restricted to gastro-intestinal disturbances, the most common being extreme flatulence and oily bowel movements. Not life threatening by any means but a fairly heavy price to pay when you could just eat less fat! Orlistat has been available over the counter for a around a decade but used to be prescription only. Does actually appear to work based no available studies with participants losing modest weight when taking the drug (x).

Is it worth the oily poop?

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Liraglutide – A long acting analogue of GLP-1, primarily used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. GLP-1 produces a number of physiological effects useful in the treatment of obesity. For example, it reduces the rate of gastric emptying and promotes a feeling of satiety – the satisfying fulfilled feeling after a big meal (1). The draw backs of form of this drug is that weight loss is not observed in all patients and nausea is a common side effect (2).

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Metformin – Also primarily used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Metformin limits the amount of glucose produced by the liver whilst increasing muscle uptake of glucose (3). Naturally this serves diabetics well, who need to manage glucose in the blood closely. Metformin has also been shown to reduce weight in diabetic patients but is not prescribed specifically for that purpose (4).

Although a few years old, this endocrinology review details the efficacy of current anti-obesity therapies, going into detail regarding the available data.

 

Diet pills

Green tea extract – Currently very popular as an ‘alternative’ weight loss aid and can be found both online and in almost any health food shop you walk into. The science suggesting green tea can actually reduce your weight is dubious at best and usually comes from poorly designed studies. Take a look at this article I’ve written for an in-depth look at why green tea is an expensive waste of money. The upside of green tea pills is that they aren’t dangerous. They simply don’t work as they say they should.

Utter crap

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DNP tables – I talk about this further down the article. DNP is a toxic compound mainly used in the industrial manufacture of pesticides and herbicides. It also has an ‘uncoupling’ effect on mitochondrial energy production which means instead of calories ultimately making energy for use by your cells, the calories go towards generating heat. You essentially burn through extra calories  through increased heat production. Despite what a lot of shameful, cheap websites tell you, DNP is fucking dangerous and has directly led to the deaths of numerous people. NEVER TAKE THIS.

Amphetamine-based tablets – Amphetamine based products have a legitimate use in treating ADHD and narcolespy. Aside from that they should be avoided. They are well known performance enhancers and are of course banned at sporting events and competitions. Amphetamine use is associated with weight loss due to appetite suppressant effects. However, amphetamines are addictive and mess with numerous aspects of physiology not to do with weight and appetite management. There is also evidence that long term use may interfere with normal dopamine signalling in the brain. Avoid!

 

So do they work?

The answer is both yes and no depending on the drug. Under the umber all of pharmaceutical anti-obesity therapies, some patients do show modest weight loss. However, these sort of drugs are rife with side effects and many have been pulled after only a few years on the market, rimonabant being one example. So in one sense they can help with weight loss, but they cannot be taken indefinitely and the risk of side effects likely outweighs the benefits of weight loss in a lot of cases.

Now if we then look at cheap over the counter or internet pills then the answer is a firm no and if they do help with weight loss then the reasons for this are usually sinister and or damaging to your health. Most diet pills that can actually lead to weight loss contain some sort of stimulant to achieve these effects. Caffeine is a well known appetite suppressant and also a physical performance enhancer. It stands to reason that a caffeine pill and a gym session might help you lose more weight in the long run. Caffeine has been well studied in regards to human fitness and health and I’ve written about it here. Caffeine is a safe stimulant. Other pills might contain derivatives of amphetamines – addictive stimulants that should always be avoided. The point remains that you simply don’t known what these pills contain so even if weight loss were possible you would be better off with a coffee before your gym session.

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.Why should you avoid them?

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Aside from numerous side effects associated with pharmaceutical interventions, the internet is littered with cheap and often dangerous diet pills. Every year or so a news story will crop up about someone who has died due to taking dodgy diet pills.

This story from last year  highlights the dangers of a substance found in a number of diet pills called dinitrophenol or DNP for short.

In fact a shocking number of other deaths  have been attributed to DNP. Here, here and here are just a few examples over the past two years. Unsuspecting people trying to boost their fat loss, bought innocent looking pills online and suffer a truly horrible death as a result. This is serious and those responsible for manufacturing and selling these pills should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

The common theme in these stories is that the victim is described as ‘cooking’ or ‘boiling’ from the inside. Although an over-simplification, this is a grim and horrible truth.

DNP is an organic compound most commonly used as a pesticide and antiseptic (5). It is also used to make a number of herbicides and wood preservatives. Not exactly the sort of thing you want to be eating right? Well, DNP has been used in high doses as a weight loss aid with disastrous consequences (6) In mammalian biology, DNP inhibits ATP production in mitochondria-containing cells (7). That is mental. ATP is essentially the life source of all cells, powering innumerable operations in the cell (8). Mess with ATP production and it will end in disaster. Interestingly, cyanide poison also interferes with cellular respiration and ATP production and we all known how deadly that is (9).

So why are these people who died from DNP pills described as cooking alive? It’s down to how DNP effects you on a cellular level. It acts as a protonophore, quite literally allowing protons to leak across the inner membrane of mitochondria, the site of respiration and ATP synthesis. As the protons leak where they shouldn’t they avoid interacting with a peptide called ATP synthase – a critical component in the system that makes ATP. Energy production therefore becomes much less efficient as part of the fuel to make it is leaking. In response to this inefficiency, the metabolic rate continues to accelerate to produce enough ATP to keep the body working. It does this by burning more and more fat tissue – which is very rich in calories. This is proportional to the amount of DNP taken.  In a nutshell, DNP ‘uncouples‘ ATP synthase from oxidation. Uncoupling is very important for rodents-it allows them to generate heat instead of ATP when they are very cold. Humans rely far less on this. Uncoupling leads to heat generation. Large doses of DNP lead to massive uncoupling and therefore large amounts of heat are generated (10).

Due to this, DNP causes fatal hyperthermia. Adding another terrible aspects to this is that the process isn’t instant. Instead, the body temperature rises gradually followed by coma and death. In  a sense your truly do ‘cook to death’. In a few harrowing stories, victims are told nothing can be done for them once they have been admitted to hospital. The drug is in the system, the ATP process is disrupted and a massive body temperature increase is unavoidable.

Is it worth taking ‘diet pills’ bought online? A FIRM NO. At best, they fail to work, at worst they can be fatal. You simply cannot tell for sure what is in them.

What about specifically developed pharmaceutical drugs? Consult with your doctor but unless you are being treated for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus with a drug that also leads to weight loss, I would avoid any anti-obesity medications as they currently stand.

My stance on this will likely change in the future. We still have a largely incomplete understanding of how the brain and body ultimately control appetite and energy regulation. We know the basics and that’s a great start but until we uncover more we can’t develop truly effective anti-obesity medications with limited side effects. We are messing with a system that is absolutely fundamental to out survival – we must be careful.

 


Alternatives

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There aren’t any quick fix alternatives! Like most things worth doing, there isn’t usually an easy or quick route. When it comes to your health, a quick fix is not what you should aim for – it’s like duct taping a damaged tire, it’s not getting to the route of the problem and it will get worse over time.

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Moderation, diet and exercise – that’s the key to a healthy body. Some may find it much harder than others but it is possible for the vast majority of people.

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The health food and supplement industry cleverly relies on standard human behaviour. Take this pill for X, this pill will grow your penis a metre, this will make you lose 10 kgs. It’s like if someone offers you an investment opportunity with 80% returns in a month – its almost always too good to be true and this is no different.

Losing weight (that stays lost!) requires a change to your lifestyle in general, including your eating habits, your sleep schedule and the amount of exercise you do. These pills sell in there thousands because the manufacturers known how daunting a ‘lifestyle change’ sounds.

If you are serious about getting in better shape don’t forget to check out these other useful articles including top exercises for muscle building at the gym or at home as well as reading up on popular supplement scams and why you shouldn’t waste your money!

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Whey protein guide: A complete guide to popular whey protein supplements

Creatine guide: Learn all the science behind this popular powder and how it can help towards your fitness goals

TOP 5: Mass building exercises

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Before you buy these popular supplements – have a look at the real science behind their use, it may surprise you:

Multivitamin Hoax

Green Tea Facade

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Finally, don’t forget to check out the supplement shop that only recommends products that have been tested in well designed studies and which have worked for me personally.

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Thanks for reading,

-ScienceGuy

5 gym ‘facts’ debunked

The gym is full of shit science. Also known as bro-science. Also known as bullshit. As funny as it is to hear, it ultimately signals ignorance of basic biology and training which isn’t all that funny. These sort of ideas seem to stick around and really spread their way through the gym community – especially young lifters. I’ve even heard popular trainers falling foul to these. It seems easier to spread bullshit then actual facts and science these days so in my never ending battle against pseudoscience and false facts I’ve put this article together so YOU, dear reader, can stand head and shoulders above everyone else with your vast, newly-acquired knowledge.

Don’t fall for this crap when you hear it in the gym. You are better than that. If you are feeling brave you may even want to challenge the gym-goon that spouts nonsense but that doesn’t always end well…

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So here it is. A quick run through of some of the most commonly heard gym ‘facts’ which are either only true to some extent or completely made up.

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#1 Perform sit ups and crunches to target tummy fat

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This one is ALWAYS over-heard in my gym and almost certainly yours as well. I commend people smashing out ab work when they are perhaps a bit overweight but all that does is DEVELOP YOUR ABDOMINALS. It will have almost no bearing on the visibility of ‘abs’. Obtaining a sweet set of herculean abs all comes down to your body fat percentage. The simple truth is that you MUST HAVE a low body fat percentage to see definition in the abdominals and obliques. Abs are visible at a range of body fat percentages, usually from about 15% downwards – obviously the lower your percentage the tighter and more visible your abs become. If you are overweight or oven just holding a little extra, no amount of abdominal work alone will lead you to a washboard stomach.

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The second important point here is that targeted fat loss through exercise isn’t really a thing. No single exercise burns fat from one particular area. Lots of shitty online fat-loss products will say something like ‘…burns through stubborn belly fat!’. They always go on about belly fat. The truth again, as always, is harder than what these arses would have you believe. In order to target belly fat you need to target ALL your fat reserves. That’s the only way – to reduce your overall body fat percentage. The best way to do this is frequent well rounded exercise involving cardio and weight training plus tighter control of your diet. Take a look at my big lift guide which can help you develop greater all-round strength as well as a really solid core. Alternatively check out this body-weight exercise guide – great for a quick and challenging workout.

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So if you are spending ages ab crunching away you would be much better off hitting some big tiring lifts like squatting or dead-lifting (both of which help build a great core and burn way more calories than crunches and sit ups) or getting going with some Interval Training on the bike or treadmill.

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#2 Creatine is a steroid

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This is simple to refute. As someone who has studied endocrinology for years – creatine isn’t a steroid!

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Who wouldn’t trust that face?

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I’ve written a complete guide to creatine, what it is, what it does to your body and how it can positively effect your training. There is a HUGE amount of false information online regarding creatine (and all supplements for that matter). As a scientist, I cite and support any claims with solid peer-reviewed research and this linked article is no different.

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Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid. It’s main role is to recycle ATP – the universal energy currency of our cells. I won’t go into the details (all can be found in the article above) but put briefly, supplementing with creatine slightly increases the stores of available ATP in muscle cells, allowing you to train harder and longer. Due to this – people often think creatine is a steroid. After all the main training benefit of steroid is that you can train harder and longer with less recovery in between training sessions. Creatine can certainly help you in training and has been shown to primarily benefit anaerobic and repetitive work i.e. weight lifting. However, creatine will provide you with no where near the benefit that steroids will. Creatine use provides your muscles with a bit more usable energy, steroids can alter major aspects of you entire physiology – hence the inherent risk with using them.

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Creatine is not a steroid but can certainly benefit your training.

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#3 You need specific protein for specific body parts

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This is definitely one of the more silly ‘facts’ I’ve over heard but unfortunately I’ve heard similar things more than once. The basic summary of what I heard was that if you train multiple muscles in one session and then drink a protein shake, either the protein gets ‘confused’ and doesn’t know where to go, or you are using the wrong protein for the muscles that you have trained. As stupid as this sounds it’s actually surprisingly hard to debunk directly with the literature as no studies (that I can find) have thought to explore this!

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So, just by using common sense and a very basic understanding of biology we can debunk this fact. In regards to the idea that every muscle has specific protein – that doesn’t make sense. It is true that we possess different kinds of muscles. For example, cardiac muscle cells do differ to skeletal muscle cells in both form and function, smooth muscle differs even further. However we are primarily training skeletal muscle when we weight train. Skeletal muscles are made from the same components and this does not differ from muscle to muscle, so any protein you ingest can just as easily go towards building your legs as it does your back. The idea of a protein for each muscle also falls flat on it’s face when you consider that the human body has 640 muscles and that it is also, practically speaking, impossible to train a single muscle. Even when doing isolation bicep curls we are really utilising many muscles at once. Any protein you ingest will be broken down into amino acids and ultimately used to synthesis new muscle tissue at the required site.

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The notion that protein gets confused about where it’s going throws up a number of red flags and I truly wonder what it must be like to live on this planet and genuinely believe things like that. Protein doesn’t have a memory, it isn’t alive and it doesn’t rely on chemo-attraction or some other sort of homing beacon to tell it where to go. It is perfectly fine to train multiple body parts in one training session and you will get stronger and bigger if you train hard and eat well. Protein will be transported to where your body needs it most. It won’t get lost on the way!

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#4 Steroids shrink your dick and gives you ‘ROID RAGE’

 

This one is an absolute classic. Roid rage is usually the first thing people discuss when bringing up recreational steroid use. Specifically, the term roid rage is applied to muscle building, anabolic steroids. Those used by competitive body builders for example (and an increasing number of average gym goers). Now, on the surface the concept of roid rage is plausible. Many anabolic steroids are based on or mimic the functions of natural testosterone. Testosterone is a powerful anabolic hormone which is essentially  what makes men ‘manly’ and goes towards explaining why men, on average are bigger, stronger and more aggressive than women.

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All natural baby!

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Women do posses testosterone but at no where near the same level as men. Testosterone is a fantastic muscle builder hence the use of steroids in the gym. The term roid rage began to gain popularity following high profile crimes involving sports and wrestling personalities who were heavily muscled individuals and known to take steroids. Perhaps the most famous of these was the tragic case of the pro wrestler Chris Benoit. 

Whether or not roid rage exists as it is popularly portrayed i.e. an unstoppable, violent,  muscle-bound goon, remains up for debate. Studies have linked testosterone with increased aggression however studies looking directly at the use of anabolic steroids and random fits of rage are not conclusive and show conflicting results. Anecdotal evidence from heavy users does show that a number of them suffer from increased aggression – some report becoming angry at minor things that, before steroid use, they would have just shrugged off. If true, violent and dangerous roid rage exists it is very rare and probably restricted to heavy and long term steroid users. However, even mild users might develop ‘shorter fuses’ and be more easily wound up than prior to use – this is something you will see discussed a lot online. A common theory is that steroid use will amplify the disposition of the user. If a user was intolerant and easily riled before use, this will likely get worse with steroid use.

Ultimately, the jury is still out on this. Although roid rage isn’t a complete myth it is no where near as common as many believe and doesn’t always manifest as violent fits of anger.

Regarding the idea that steroid use shrinks your dick specifically. This is incorrect and probably came about for two reasons.

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  • Professional body builders, in their tiny posing pants, do look like they have  minuscule nobs – this is because they are absolutely enormous human beings. Their legs are like that of a race horse so proportionally the penis looks like that of a pixie. In reality the size will not have changed with steroid use.

 

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#5 Training legs ‘spikes’  testosterone and makes you bigger all over 

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Similar to the concept of roid rage (above), studies have shown conflicting results regarding testosterone spiking during leg training and whether or not this makes you bigger and stronger overall. I hear trainers in my gym saying this a lot to their new clients – perhaps in an effort to get them in the habit of training their legs hard and well.

We know that testosterone is a major driver of muscle growth and that any natural way to increase testosterone production for weight lifters would offer a large advantage in the gym in both muscle mass and ultimately strength development.

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So the question is really two smaller questions…

  1. If I train my legs will I have increased testosterone production?
  2. If so, does this lead to increased muscle mass in other body areas?

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A number of factors influence your testosterone levels – your weight, age and also the time of day. In regards to question 1, it has been established that testosterone levels do increase following exercise but only briefly. Short, intense bouts of exercise and compound lifts such as the squat and dead lift appear to promote the greater release. What is harder to determine is if this actually leads to growth or gains elsewhere…

Two of the most relevant studies looking to answer this question directly show almost completely opposing results

One study performed by West et al in 2009 showed that if some male participants engaged in a high volume leg workout after a bicep workout and others just did the bicep workout without the leg exercises, there was NO DIFFERENCE in bicep size or strength between the groups by the end of the 12 week study…the theory was that the testosterone boost afforded by leg exercises would lead to a greater increase in bicep mass in the group that trained legs. This was shown to not be the case. 

Another study, with a similar design, undertaken by Ronnestad, B.R. et al in 2011, showed the exact opposite. They DID see an increase in bicep mass in the group that had trained legs. An important distinction between the studies is that in the West 2009 study, participants trained legs after their biceps, in this 2011 study, they trained legs before biceps.

So what to make of all this…

Both of these were well designed studies yet they demonstrate opposite outcomes. Perhaps the order of exercises is very important? However physiology is hugely complicated and increasing testosterone in the blood doesn’t necessarily lead to a direct increase in muscle mass.

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  • Large compound lifts such as the squat and dead lift do lead to increased circulating testosterone but this is short lived and does not lead to increased overall muscle mass

 

  • There is no doubt that big lower body lifts leads to the development of greater lower body mass – as we expect, train a muscle well and that muscle gets bigger and stronger – simple.

Whether or not training legs ultimately makes you get bigger all over should be less important than the fact that training your lower body is very important regardless. You are only as strong as your weakest part and having a balanced and developed physique all over will translate into much greater functional strength and better lifting numbers. You also wont get laughed at for your baby legs.

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Check out this big ass-lifting guide for mass monster in you!

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Thanks for reading! Hit me up in the comments

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-ScienceGuy

The Slap Therapy Tragedy

The ‘Slap Therapy’ Tragedy

 

I’ve decided to write a quick post regarding a couple of truly disturbing news stories I’ve read recently.

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The topic?

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Slapping people (including infants) to cure their diseases and illnesses…

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These sort of stories are important because they highlight pretty much everything I stand against and one of the main reasons for this websites existence. That is, charlatans taking advantage of people who don’t know better.

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In these cases, deaths have occurred due to the irresponsible and reckless behaviour from practitioners of something called ‘slap therapy’.

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Here is a link to the official website – almost everything on here, to me, is preposterous.

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Claims include that slap therapy is:

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‘Superior to modern medical practices’

‘Effective on almost all diseases’

The testimonials are even worse:

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‘A Self-healed Story of an Advanced Prostate Cancer Patient’ – If your advanced cancer has self-resolved, this is very rare and you are extremely lucky. However looking more closely, this isn’t a self healed story. The actual testimonial states that the tumour has reduced in size. This can occur for a number of reasons and is not sufficient evidence to claim a cancer is ‘healed’. 

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‘Bladder Cancer Self Healed’ – By their own admission they went through intensive radiotherapy treatment for the cancer before starting slap therapy. 

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‘Food Poisoning Self-Healed with Paida’ – Food poisoning is usually a short self-resolving affliction lasting no more than one or two days. The account says that immediately after eating a peach a man fell ill with food poisoning – illness does not occur immediately after consumption of contaminated food. This account is likely false.

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‘How Did I Self-Heal My Type 1 Diabetes?’ – This account is scary as it echoes events that led to the death of a young diabetic boy (detailed further below). A type 1 diabetic woman, under advice from a man with no medical background or training and a severely warped understanding of human biology, massively reduced her insulin intake. However on further inspection she is still receiving insulin on a  daily basis, just less than previously. This is no ‘healing’ type 1 diabetes – a huge amounts of research is focused on combating beta cell loss in type 1 diabetics. This isn’t something that spontaneously reverses or can be fixed due to being slapped. Likely, this woman can function normally on the amount of insulin she is receiving. Nevertheless she is putting her health at risk. 

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Well that’s me sold! Sign me up. Except don’t.

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This isn’t harmless homeopathy, this is physically beating the ‘toxins’ out of someone. Practitioners claim that all the serious bruising from the slapping aren’t bruises but actually harmful toxins leaving the body.

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This has directly led to the death of one elderly diabetic women after a number of people tried to beat the diabetes out of her. The news report suggest the woman had a life long phobia of needles. Having to inject insulin was therefore extremely difficult for her and she had frequently sort alternative therapies. These slap therapists preyed directly on this fear and its resulted in this poor woman’s death.

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An excerpt from the news story from the woman’s son…

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Carr-Gomm’s son Matthew, 43, said his mother, from Lewes, East Sussex, had been given false hope.

“I am certain that if she hadn’t gone on this course, she would still be alive today. She was convinced this alternative treatment was going to have a positive effect,” he said.

“She had a lifelong fear of needles, so diabetes was probably the worst illness she could get. That was why she was so keen to try alternative therapies.”

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But the story goes even further and becomes even more tragic.

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A 7 year old boy has also died as a direct or in-direct result of this therapy. The boy, a type 1 diabetic, died during a week long slap therapy retreat (at a cost of 1800 USD – far from cheap). The boy fell ill and began to vomit mid-way thought the retreat. He died on the way to hospital. Investigations are trying to determine whether he was taken off his insulin during the retreat – if so what were the parents doing agreeing to something so foolish!. Either way a young boy has lost his life.

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Parents convinced that slap therapy is the key to healing have started slapping the shit out of their babies and children as well. I really don’t know what to say about this. It’s so far into ‘lunatic’ territory that it boggles the mind. The investigation contains some fairly disturbing videos. And remember, these are the kids parents doing this. Not some stranger. They truly believe this anti-science alternative, dangerous ‘therapy’.

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In a world where the alternative therapy market continues to grow year on year into a mammoth industry, it’s so important that we make a stand and demand evidence and accountability for people who sell and promote this garbage. Selling therapies that simply don’t work is one thing – asking someone to beat their kid because it will cure their diabetes is an entirely different matter and should result in prison time for the charlatan in question. Holding the parents accountable is a tricky one and perhaps best left for a discussion in the comments.

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Thanks for reading,

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-ScienceGuy

 

The Green Tea Facade

Green tea has been consumed, mainly by Asian nations (having originated in China) for hundreds and hundreds of years. Over the course of history numerous and powerful heath effects have been attributed to frequent consumption of green tea.

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In the modern day, green tea and green tea based products are major staples of health food and fitness shops with much emphasis placed on it’s ‘fat melting’ properties.

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Green tea has also been linked to other extraordinary benefits…

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  • A cure for various cancers
  • Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Improves glycemic control
  • Reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol
  • A general reduction in risk of death
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Powerful weight loss aid

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These are all extraordinary claims which of course require extraordinary evidence. Luckily a fair amount of research has looked more closely at these proposed benefits…

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Is green tea beneficial to health: What does the science say?

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I’ve gone through the major ‘health benefits’ of green tea and addressed them below. Where possible I’ve used meta-studies to support my arguments. These are large scale reviews of all the available data on the topic and can provide stronger evidence than individual studies alone.

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Cancer: There are a few studies which make suggestive links between consumption of green tea and reduced risk of certain types of cancer in specific populations. A small decrease in esophageal cancer rates amongst the Chinese and slightly lower rates of oral cancers in Asian populations. (1, 2). However it is impossible to control for all variables in these sort of population studies and although overall cancer rates were very slightly lower in green tea drinkers, there are also many many other differences in lifestyle habits that could lead to this outcome.  When all current data is taken together, there is no firm, conclusive evidence that green tea consumption prevents or treats cancer  (3,4).

Search for 'green tea and cancer' and this is one of the first image results. Most of this is wrong. Pseudoscience like this is why I started this website in the first place. Red writing was added by me not some lunatic arguing with himself in an info graphic.
Search for ‘green tea and cancer’ and this is one of the first image results. Most of this is wrong. Pseudoscience like this is why I started this website in the first place. Red writing was added by me not some lunatic arguing with himself in an info graphic.

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Cardiovascular disease: A recent meta-study which compiled a large amount of data on this subject concluded that daily intake of green tea was associated with  a roughly 5% chance reduced risk of death from cardiovascular diseases (this includes things like heart attacks and stroke) (5). A well respected Cochrane review also compiled data from numerous randomised trials a few years previously and reported a small reduction in blood pressure associated with  tea consumption (6). In fitting with these findings, a number of other studies have suggested green tea consumption may also be associated with a reduced risk of stroke (7).

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Blood glucose control: Data here is a little bit messy. Green tea lowered fasting blood glucose in one trial but data generated on fasting insulin levels as well as glycated hemoglobin levels (used to determine longer term average blood glucose) was inconsistent (8,9). Both these references are large scale meta-studies so we can be fairly certain that green tea consumption has no real impact on glycemic control.

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Cholesterol: In this area green tea does appear to have some small but clear benefits. Another Cochrane review (can’t get enough) of longer term trials over 3 months in duration, concluded that green tea consumption lowers total blood cholesterol concentrations in the blood including LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol sometimes called ‘bad cholesterol’ (10).

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LDL - Bad HDL - Goof
LDL – Bad
HDL – Good

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General risk of death: Two separate meta-studies concluded that frequent consumption of green tea resulted in a small reduction in the percentage chance of death from any cause (11,12).

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Inflammation: Green tea consumption is not associated with a significantly lower concentration of c-reactive protein in the blood. C-reactive protein is an acute phase protein from the liver that increases in response to macrophage and T cell activation so is used as a marker of inflammation (13).

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Green tea and pills containing concentrated green tea extract (catechins being the most important component) are  a multi-million dollar market. Although there is some suggestive evidence of small health benefits (see above), green tea is most commonly sold as a weight loss aid.

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But does it actually help with weight loss?

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Green tea is not a weight loss aid

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If you can convince people that your product will help them lose weight then you will make a guaranteed profit. The population is getting fatter and more than ever, people are desperate for a quick fix for weight problems.

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As you’ve guessed – there is no magic pill or easy fix for weight loss. It requires a maintained change to your eating and exercise habits.

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Ridiculous
Ridiculous

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Green tea is described on lots of product labelling as a ‘metabolic booster’ or ‘fat burner’. The main molecule that is often reported to be the ‘fat burner’ is a catechin called  epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) . So what sort of conclusions are drawn from study’s looking at the ‘fat burning’ properties of green tea?

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Important point to bare in mind: Your average cup of green tea contains about 50-60 mg of EGCG

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One study from 2009 looked directly at the effects of green tea on body composition, measuring things like intra-abdominal fat, waist circumference and total body fat in control subjects and subjects receiving a varying amount of EGCG and caffeine. The group receiving the highest daily dose of EGCG and caffeine saw a clear reduction in all three measurements (14).

.Sounds great right?

.Well not really.

.This group was receiving 900 mg of EGCG a day as well as 200 mg of caffeine on top.

That’s the equivalent of about 18 cups of green tea and 5 cups of coffee...

Neither of which can be described as ‘healthy’ in the long term.

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Another study, published in 2008 approached from a different angle and looked at if green tea could enhance exercise-induced weight loss.

These participants were receiving over 600 mg of EGCG a day. The paper describes a ‘trend towards greater fat mass  loss in the catechin group’  which is another way of saying there was no statistically detectable difference between the groups. (15).

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What about claims that green tea ‘boost or increases metabolism’?

Short answer: It doesn’t.

A number of studies have shown that green tea consumption has no effect at all on the basal metabolic rate of healthy participants (16, 17). Importantly, these studies were measuring basal or resting metabolism . People peddling ‘fat burning’ green tea supplements want you to believe that green tea will simply burn away the extra calories all while you sit on the sofa. Impossible!

A more recent Cochrane meta-study, taking data from 18 separate studies and involving close to 2000 participants concluded that green tea does lead to small weight loss in obese people. However this is described as ‘non-significant and unlikely to be clinically important’. Additionally, green tea has no effect on weight loss maintenance (18).

All strong evidence that Green Tea or Green Tea Extract products are close to useless when it comes to weight loss. 

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Take home message

 

So what have we learned about green tea…

Commonly advertised attributes and the truth side by side:

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  • A cure for various cancers : No
  • Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease: Small reduction 
  • Improves glycemic control: Currently inconclusive
  • Reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol: Small but clear reduction 
  • A general reduction in risk of death: Potentially true but could be explained by many other variables
  • Reduces inflammation: No
  • Powerful weight loss aid: No

 

Although there is some evidence that green tea consumption can have health benefits such as a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a reduction in cholesterol, relying on supplements for this benefit isn’t necessary. Reducing your intake of trans fats and exercising more will provide you with these benefits plus many more.

In terms of the fat burning potential of green tea, it simply doesn’t exist. 

If you enjoy green tea then by all means enjoy a hot brew every now and then. However if you are forcing yourself to drink green tea for the advertised benefits  or paying through the nose for green tea extract pills then it’s not worth your time or money.

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Thanks for reading,

ScienceGuy

 

 

 

 

References

 

I recommend using Google Scholar for quick access to these studies.

1) Zheng JS, Yang J, Fu YQ, Huang T, Huang YJ, Li D (January 2013). “Effects of green tea, black tea, and coffee consumption on the risk of esophageal cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies”. Nutr Cancer (Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis). 65 (1): 1–16.

2) Wang W, Yang Y, Zhang W, Wu W (April 2014). “Association of tea consumption and the risk of oral cancer: a meta-analysis”. Oral Oncol (Meta-Analysis). 50 (4): 276–81.

3)  Boehm K, Borrelli F, Ernst E, et al. (2009). “Green tea (Camellia sinensis) for the prevention of cancer”. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (Systematic review) (3): CD005004

4) Johnson R, Bryant S, Huntley AL (December 2012). “Green tea and green tea catechin extracts: an overview of the clinical evidence”. Maturitas (Review). 73 (4): 280–7.

5) Tang J, Zheng JS, Fang L, Jin Y, Cai W, Li D (July 2015). “Tea consumption and mortality of all cancers, CVD and all causes: a meta-analysis of eighteen prospective cohort studies”. Br J Nutr (Meta-analysis). 114: 1–11.

6) Zhang C, Qin YY, Wei X, Yu FF, Zhou YH, He J (February 2015). “Tea consumption and risk of cardiovascular outcomes and total mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective observational studies”. Eur J Epidemiology(Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis). 30 (2): 103–13.

7)  Khalesi S, Sun J, Buys N, Jamshidi A, Nikbakht-Nasrabadi E, Khosravi-Boroujeni H (September 2014). “Green tea catechins and blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials”. Eur J Nutr (Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis). 53 (6): 1299–1311

8) Liu K, Zhou R, Wang B, Chen K, Shi LY, Zhu JD, Mi MT (August 2013). “Effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials”. Am J Clin Nutr (Meta-Analysis). 98 (2): 340–8.

9) Zheng XX, Xu YL, Li SH, Hui R, Wu YJ, Huang XH (April 2013). “Effects of green tea catechins with or without caffeine on glycemic control in adults: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”. Am J Clin Nutr (Meta-Analysis). 97 (4): 750–62.

10)  Zheng XX, Xu YL, Li SH, Liu XX, Hui R, Huang XH (August 2011). “Green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults: a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials”. Am J Clin Nutr (Meta-Analysis). 94 (2): 601–10.

11)  Tang J, Zheng JS, Fang L, Jin Y, Cai W, Li D (July 2015). “Tea consumption and mortality of all cancers, CVD and all causes: a meta-analysis of eighteen prospective cohort studies”. Br J Nutr (Meta-analysis). 114: 1–11.

12) Zhang C, Qin YY, Wei X, Yu FF, Zhou YH, He J (February 2015). “Tea consumption and risk of cardiovascular outcomes and total mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective observational studies“. Eur J Epidemiology(Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis). 30 (2): 103–13

13)  Serban C, Sahebkar A, Antal D, Ursoniu S, Banach M (September 2015). “Effects of supplementation with green tea catechins on plasma C-reactive protein concentrations: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”. Nutrition (Systematic review & meta-analysis). 31 (9): 1061–71.

14) Wang et al  (August 2009). ”Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition” Obesity 18 (4):773-9

15) Maki et al (December 2008) ”Green tea catechin consumption enhances exercise-induced abdominal fat loss in overweight and obese adults” Journal of Nutrition  139(2):264-70.

16) Lonac et al (August 2010) ”Influence of short-term consumption of caffine-free EGCG supplement on resting metabolism and the thermic effect of feeding”.  Obesity  19(2):298-304.

17) Gregersen et al (May 2009) ”Effect of moderation intakes of different tea catechins and caffeine on acute measures of energy metabolism under sedentary conditions”Journal of Nutrition 102(8):1187-94.

18)  Jurgens et al (December 2012) ”Green tea for weight loss and weight maintenance in overweight or obese adults”.  Cochrane Library 

The Multivitamin Hoax

I was flicking through good old Facebook, the book of face, the other day when I came across an advert for yet another multivitamin product under the name of VITL. Presumably a play on the word vital…as in, you vitally need this supplement to be healthy. Or do you?

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Multivitamin supplements and other products that fall into that sort of category such as anti-oxidant pills are consumed in huge quantities in the UK and US. Many people swear by them and start their day swallowing down a random amount of varied vitamins. Vitamins are good right? They are important in loads of physiological processes so surely more of them is better?

.

 

Looks enticing but 35.99 a month is a bit steep....
Looks enticing but 35.99 a month is a bit steep….

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In reality the science suggests two things rather clearly if you are an average person:

  • All your vitamin needs are met by your diet if its fairly balanced
  • Taking too much of a particular vitamin can have serious repercussions to your health

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I don’t wish to target VITL directly as many companies are peddling their vitamin wares. It’s not the product itself I have an issue with but the target market. It makes medical sense to supplement a vitamin that you are clinically deficient in but trying to sell expensive vitamins to people who don’t need them is a complete waste of the customers money and in some cases potentially harmful to their health.

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What is a ‘vitamin’ 

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 A vitamin can be defined as such :

‘A vitamin is an organic compound and a vital nutrient that an organism requires in limited amounts’ (the key phrase here is ‘in limited amounts’)

Technically speaking, ‘vitamin’ refers to a chemical compound that an organism requires but cannot synthesise by itself in sufficient quantities. The vitamin must therefore largely be obtained from dietary sources.

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Vitamins are classed based on their biological and chemical activity, not on their structure. Therefore a number of vitamin-like compounds (vitamers) may be grouped together under one umbrella vitamin name. For example ‘Vitamin B’ includes a large number of ‘vitamers’ each with their own B number and additional name. Vitamin B9 for example is Folic Acid. Not all vitamers are in the biologically active state but can be converted into this form in the body.

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Thirteen vitamins are currently recognised: Vitamins A, B (8 vitamers), C, D, E and K

 


Physiological Roles

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Vitamins play a varied and diverse role in the body and have widely different functions.

I’ve made a table to summarise this section in brief as it’s fairly in depth!

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vitamin-table-1

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The large group of vitamin B type-compounds  act as co-enzymes (and precursors) in metabolic processes. Co-enzymes are non protein compounds that are required by the protein enzyme to catalyse specific reactions in a cell (1). They therefore perform an extremely important role in the minute by minute function of cells. Acting as co-enzymes is their most recognised functional role but there are many others (2). Large amounts of research effort has been put into uncovering the therapeutic potential of the B vitamin family of compounds. Many do have true therapeutic value but only in the treatment of serve disorders. B9 for example, also known as folic acid, has been shown to reduce the rate of neural tube defects (NTDs) in infants and as a result can be found fortified into many different foods in a hope to reduce the incidence of NTDs in the population (3). There is also some evidence that folic acid supplementation may confer a small reduction in the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease if taken over a long period of time (4)

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Vitamin D possesses hormone-like functions and act as regulators of mineral metabolism and plays a part in the control of tissue growth and differentiation (5). A chronic lack of vitamin D famously leads to ‘rickets’, a disorder of bone growth and structure. Sunlight (certain wavelengths) modify Vitamin D into its active form which is why at least some exposure to the sun is important. Foods are often fortified with vitamin D in countries that receive lower levels of sunlight (less hours and or/less intensity) but can be found naturally in oily fish and eggs (6).

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Vitamin C acts as both an enzymatic co-factor and also  functions as  an anti-oxidants to protect agasint oxidative stress. The vitamin is a co-factor in a number of important enzymatic reactions, a few of which are related to the synthesis of collagen,  a key structural protein. A lack of vitamin C can impact collagen production leading to scurvy. 

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Yaaaaargh. Eat an orange.
Yaaaaargh. Eat an orange.

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Vitamin C is a well studied vitamin and makes common appearances in health food shops and websites as a sort of ‘cure-all’ especially targeting things like the common cold and other respiratory pathologies (that website link claims you can cure pretty much any disease). However vitamin C supplementation studies have shown conflicting results. A number of studies suggest that vitamin C supplementation may reduce the duration of common colds (7) but it doesn’t seem to prevent colds in the first place (8). The potential protective effects of vitamin C supplements regarding cardiovascular health and lung cancer has also been explored in depth but overall studies suggest no detectable protective effect (9,10,11). Two of these references are systematic reviews and analyse the data from multiple studies. One of which is a Cochrane review who are known to be very thorough in their approach.

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Vitamin E has a number of roles including acting as a fat-soluble anti-oxidant. The vitamin essentially mops up free radicals preventing oxidation stress and tissue damage. This vitamin has also been the subject of a study looking at protective effects against major cardiovascular events in middle aged men but supplementation does not increase protection (12) Surprisingly one report suggested vitamin E supplementation might even increase the risk of lung cancer for already at-risk individuals.(13)

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Vitamin K is required for the complete synthesis of a number of important proteins involved in blood coagulation (various coagulation factors) , vascular biology and bone metabolism (14). In somewhat of a developing theme, vitamin K supplementation was explored as a means to prevent or reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease. This makes sense as vitamin K deficiency is associated with the stiffening of arteries (15). Despite this, there is no good evidence that vitamin K supplementation will stop cardiac events occurring in the first place (16). The science also refutes fairy common claims that vitamin K supplements can slow cancerous tumour growth (17).

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Overall, studies which look at standard supplementation (rather than the effects of over-supplementation) have produced few promising results. Unless you are deficient in a particular vitamin then supplementation has no detectable benefit to your health. The only possible exception to this is vitamin C supplementation in regards to common cold duration. Additionally, vitamin C supplementation may help in the prevention of common colds when individuals are exercising rigorously in cold environments (18, 19). This seems like a super specific scenario but if you plan on skiing naked for a prolonged period of time than maybe pop a vitamin C tab or two (but not three…that’s just getting silly)

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*Tactical dong strap*

 


Daily multivitamins are potentially harmful

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I’m going to take aim at Berocca here as an example. Berocca is an effervescing tablet that you plop into a glass of water and it releases all it’s tasty, healthy vitamins and minerals (we know the truth berocca you scum bag!). Now, unlike VITL, who I assume have done their research on vitamin absorption, the people behind Berocca have added a ludicrously large % of your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for many of the vitamins. I mean, 1071% of your recommended daily allowance of B1! That is mental for a number of reasons.

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A quick excerpt from the brilliant website quackwatch.org about RDAs:

”The RDAs have been published by the National Research Council approximately every five years since 1943. They are defined as “the levels of intake of essential nutrients that, on the basis of scientific knowledge, are judged by the Food and Nutrition Board to be adequate to meet the known nutrient needs of practically all healthy persons.” Neither the RDAs nor the Daily Values listed on food labels are “minimums” or “requirements.” They are deliberately set higher than most people need. The reason quacks say that the RDAs are too low is obvious: if you believe you need more than can be obtained from food, you are more likely to buy supplements”

.

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The doses in VITL stay within recommended limits
The doses in VITL stay within recommended limits

 

1000 % of your RDA is 900 % too much!

Firstly I have already shown you that for the average healthy person, supplementing with any vitamin doesn’t provide protection against diseases or make you ‘healthier’ in general. 

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Secondly, vitamins are only required in limited quantity. The phrase ‘more is better’ is almost always wrong when applied to biology. Any additional vitamins taken in are excreted as waste so those doses are needlessly high.

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Finally, those super high percentages may hide a sinister detail. Not only are excess vitamins pointless they have also been linked to increased risk of a variety of diseases. Over-dosing on some of the vitamins can also induce a specific set of symptoms depending on the vitamin as summarised below.

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picture

Major studies looking into the effects of long term vitamin supplementation have produced surprising but solid data.

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General Mutlivitamin Tablets: Two large meta-studies, headed by the same researchers, that had access to data from hundreds of thousands of people (more likely to show a true effect) found that individuals taking daily multivitamins had an INCREASED RISK OF MORTALITY in comparison to people who don’t (20,21). Mortality of course covers death from all causes so those people taking multivitamins daily have an increased risk of dying in general. That’s pretty bleak. Other studies have looked at certain vitamins in particular and their effects on the incidence rates of specific diseases. The situation is no less bleak unfortunately…

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Vitamin A: As the table further up the article shows, vitamin A can be found in green leafy veg, oranges and milk to name just a few sources. Carrots are also a great source. You only need to eat half a carrot to obtain you recommended daily allowance. Now these studies are specific to smokers but beta-carotene (form of vitamin A) was explored for it’s therapeutic value in lung cancer development. Shockingly those smokers on beta carotene supplements saw a 28% increased incidence of lung cancer (which is already comparatively high in smokers), a huge increase! So unexpected was this result that the trial was terminated ahead of schedule. (22, 23)

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The horror!
The horror!

 

Vitamin E: A large number of studies have been conducted concerning Vitamin E supplementation and, like vitamin A, the results are rather disturbing. A study trying to determine if vitamin E could be used to reduce cancer and cardiovascular disease uncovered an increased risk of heart failure in patients taking ‘excessive amounts’ of vitamin E (this why those crazy high % RDAs in some products are dangerous!). These patients all had existing vascular disease or diabetes mellitus (24). Perhaps excessive vitamin E exacerbates circulatory problems that surface with both vascular disease and chronic diabetes.

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Another study produced a similar finding to the Vitamin A meta-studies in that vitamin E supplementation correlated with increased mortality (25). This was a large study involving over 100,000 individuals. The conclusion says it all:

”High-dosage (> or =400 IU/d) vitamin E supplements may increase all-cause mortality and should be avoided.”

Of relevance to men, a more recent 2011 study with 35,000 participants  showed that vitamin E supplementation significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer (26)

Ultimately, the science refutes the phrase ‘you can’t have too much of a good thing’. Multivitamins and specific vitamin supplements have been linked with an increased risk of death in general, prostate cancer in men, skin cancer in women and  heart failure in those already at risk.

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Admittedly, these trials expose participants to vitamin levels far above their recommended allowance but that shows us how potentially dangerous it is for companies to make products (for daily consumption) with 5 or 10 times the recommended levels. 

 


Summary: Do you need daily multivitamin supplements?

 

For the average person, the simple answer is a resounding no. All your vitamin needs are met by your diet.

In fact, it should be an aggressive  ‘no’ because you may in fact actually be damaging your health. If you do still wish to take daily vitamins then for the love of god at least check the % RDA on the back and stay away from those products that provide 1000% of your RDA in one daily serving.

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”2000 percent of my RDA? F*ck that sh*t!”

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Whats important to remember is that although the evidence shows that vitamin supplements, in general, will not make you ‘healthier’ this is all assuming you have a fairly balanced life style and diet to begin with. If you are known to have a deficiency in a particular vitamin then supplementing may still be helpful as long as you stay within recommended daily intakes. Of course, listen to your doctor.

Finally, as an added note: I’ve written this article without touching on fitness or training at all. Not many studies focus on this topic and it would be a very short article if I did. The story is much the same as has been told above. Unless you have a legitimate reason to take vitamins, taking extra won’t effect your general health or really impact your training in any meaningful way. Vitamins are peddled all over fitness and body-building websites just like at health food equivalents but now you know that they are a TOTAL WASTE OF MONEY. 

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My only advice, and this applies to all supplements, is that actual food should always come first. That’s the whole idea of a supplement, to supplement what you are are (or are not) getting through your diet. Your money would be much better spent on frequent purchases of fruit and vegetables.

Any questions? Feel free to reach me at ed@scienceguysupplements.com

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Thanks for reading,

ScienceGuy

 


Text References 

I recommend using Google Scholar to quickly find these studies in full detail.

1) University of Bristol (2002). “Pantothenic Acid”. Retrieved 16 September 2012.

2) National Academy of Sciences. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board, ed. (1998). “Chapter 6 – Niacin”. Dietary Reference Intakes for Tjiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin and Choline. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

3) Bailey, Lynn B. (2009). Folate in Health and Disease, Second Edition. CRC Press. p. 198

4) Li Y, Huang T, Zheng Y, Muka T, Troup J, Hu FB (2016). “Folic Acid Supplementation and the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials”. J Am Heart Assoc. 5 (8)

5) Holick MF (March 2006). “High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and implications for health”. Mayo Clin. Proc. 81 (3): 353–73.

6) Holick, M.F. The Vitamin D Deficiency Pandemic: a Forgotten Hormone Important for Health. Health Reviews. 2010; 32: 267-283.

7) Douglas RM, Hemilä H, Chalker E, Treacy B (2007). Hemilä H, ed. “Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold”. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (3): CD00098

8) Heimer KA, Hart AM, Martin LG, Rubio-Wallace S (May 2009). “Examining the evidence for the use of vitamin C in the prophylaxis and treatment of the common cold”. J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 21 (5): 295–300

9) Fulan H, Changxing J, Baina WY, Wencui Z, Chunqing L, Fan W, Dandan L, Dianjun S, Tong W, Da P, Yashuang Z (October 2011). “Retinol, vitamins A, C, and E and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis and meta-regression”. Cancer Causes Control. 22(10): 1383–96.

10) Ye Y, Li J, Yuan Z (2013). “Effect of antioxidant vitamin supplementation on cardiovascular outcomes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”. PLoS ONE. 8 (2): e56803.

11) Stratton J, Godwin M (June 2011). “The effect of supplemental vitamins and minerals on the development of prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis”. Fam Pract. 28 (3): 243–52.

12) Rimm E, Stamper M, et al.(May 1993). ”Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in men” The New England Journal of Medicine . 328 (20) 1450-1456.

13) Heionen OP, Albanes D (April 1994). ”The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers” The New England Journal of Medicine. 330:1029-1035

14) “Vitamin K Overview”. University of Maryland Medical Center.

15) Maresz K (2015). “Proper Calcium Use: Vitamin K2 as a Promoter of Bone and Cardiovascular Health”. Integrative Medicine (Encinitas, Calif.) (Review). 14 (1): 34–9.

16) Hartley L, Clar C, Ghannam O, Flowers N, Stranges S, Rees K (2015). “Vitamin K for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease”. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (Systematic review). (9)

17) Ades TB, ed. (2009). “Vitamin K”. American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Therapies (2nd ed.). American Cancer Society. pp. 558–563.

18) Douglas RM, Hemilä H (June 2005). “Vitamin C for Preventing and Treating the Common Cold”. PLoS Medicine. 2(6):

19) Hemilä H, Chalker E (January 2013). “Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold”. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1

20) Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Simonetti RG, et al. Antioxidant supplements for prevention of gastrointestinal cancers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2004 Oct 2-8;364(9441):1219-28.

21) Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Gluud LL, et al. Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2007 Feb 28;297(8):842-57.

22) Omenn GS, Goodman GE, Thornquist MD, et al. Risk factors for lung cancer and for intervention effects in CARET, the Beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 1996 Nov 6;88(21):1550-9.

23) The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. The New England Journal of Medicine. 1994 Apr 14;330(15):1029-35

24) Lonn E, Bosch J, Yusuf S, et al. Effects of long-term vitamin E supplementation on cardiovascular events and cancer: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2005 Mar 16;293(11):1338-47.

25) Miller ER, Pastor-Barriuso R, Dalal D, et al. Meta-analysis: high-dosage vitamin E supplementation may increase all-cause mortality. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2005 Jan 4;142(1):37-46.

25) Klein EA, Thompson IM Jr, Tangen CM, et al. Vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer: the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). JAMA. 2011 Oct 12;306(14):1549-56.

Table References

1) Penniston KL, Tanumihardjo SA (2006). “The acute and chronic toxic effects of vitamin A”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 83 (2): 191–201.

2) “Thiamin, vitamin B1: MedlinePlus Supplements”. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.

3) Hardman, J.G.; et al., eds. (2001). Goodman and Gilman’s Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics (10th ed.). p. 992.

4) Brunton, Laurence L.; Lazo, John S.; Parker, Keith, eds. (2005). Goodman & Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics(11th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

5) Pantothenic acid, dexpanthenol: MedlinePlus Supplements”. MedlinePlus. Retrieved 5 October 2009.

6) Perry, T. A.; Weerasuriya, A.; Mouton, P. R.; Holloway, H. W.; Greig, N. H. (2004). “Pyridoxine-induced toxicity in rats: a stereological quantification of the sensory neuropathy”. Exp. Neurol. 190 (1): 133–144.

7) FAO; WHO (2002), “ch. 4, Folate and Folic Acid”, Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements

8) The Dark Side Of Linus Pauling’s Legacy, Quackwatch

9) Masterjohn, C (2007). “Vitamin D toxicity redefined: vitamin K and the molecular mechanism”. Med Hypotheses. 68 (5): 1026–34. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2006.09.051.

10) Gaby, Alan R. (2005). “Does vitamin E cause congestive heart failure? (Literature Review & Commentary)”. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients.

11) Rohde LE; de Assis MC; Rabelo ER (2007). “Dietary vitamin K intake and anticoagulation in elderly patients”. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 10 (1): 1–5.