Minggu, 22 Februari 2009

Magic pill

Whilst on the subject of herbal and vitamin supplements, which we almost were, there was a very impressive huge study published this week that looked at the effect of vitamin supplements in postmenopausal women. The bottom line: no effect on health. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

In a way this is surprising because the study was so large and looked at so many aspects of health that it had a lot of statistical power to detect even a small effect. The study involved more than 160,000 women roughly split between those that took regular multivitamins and those that didn't. Eight years later they looked at a variety of disease incidences, including cancer (almost 10,000 cases) and cruder measures such as total mortality (again almost 10,000 deaths). Not even a hint of a difference.

Combined with other recent studies showing no effect of multivitamins in men and in children the evidence is pretty clear that the twenty BILLION dollars Americans spend each year on multivitamins is a waste of money.

Eat healthy. Exercise. Don't smoke. Wear a seat belt. Statistically these things are proven to be likely to add years to your life (individual results may vary of course). It's pretty simple but the allure of a magic pill continues to sucker people in.

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