Wednesday, June 26, 2013

'Don't take vitamin pills': U.S. doctor warns that some supplements could harm health

  • Dr Paul Offit, who has written a book about 'alternative medicine', says that the trend for super-strength supplements are dangerous
  • Said that multivitamin pills are unlikely to do harm but may be of no benefit
  • But pediatrician added that in certain cases, such as during pregnancy, certain supplements, such as Vitamin D, can boost health
  • Said that Apple founder Steve Jobs might be alive today if he hadn't used 'alternative therapies' as 95% of those with his cancer survive with surgery
By Rachel Reilly
A U.S. doctor is has warned people against taking health supplements, saying they could pose a risk to health.

Dr Paul Offit, who has written a book called 'Do You Believe In Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine', said that very few alternative health supplements are of any benefit and could in fact carry health risks.

He added that people often believe that supplements are harmless but that this simply isn't true - particularly in the case of super-strength supplements which are becoming increasingly popular.

'When you take large quantities of vitamins - 5-fold, 10-fold - greater than the [recommended daily allowance], I think the data is clear - it increases your chances of heart disease, cancer and can shorten your life,' said the doctor in an interview with CBS This Morning.

The doctor, who is based at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, went on to explain that he had recently seen a television advertisement that told viewers you would need to drink two gallons of orange juice to get as much Vitamin C as was in the supplement being promoted.
He said that there's probably a good reason why nature doesn't provide that much Vitamin C ni one hit.

The UK market for vitamins and supplements was estimated to be worth £385million last year, up 2.7 per cent on the previous year.
Dr Offit went on to explain that he didn't think that multivitamins would do any harm however, although it is not really known whether or not they actually do any good.

When asked if he thought it was worth taking any nutritional pills, he said that there were four cases.

He recommended pregnant mothers to take folic acid to prevent babies developing spina bifida, a condition that causes the spine to become deformed.

He said that Vitamin D was important for babies, particularly in those who are exclusively breastfed and do not get much exposure to sunlight.

Elderly women should take calsium and Vitamin D and calcium to help prevent bones thinning and he concluded that omega-3 fatty acid oils might be beneficial to heart health, but that current studies are inconclusive.
Dr Offit also blasted the term 'alternative medicine and said: 'There's no such thing as alternative medicine - if it works it, is medicine. If it doesn't work it's not an alternative'

When asked what his views on alternative therapies such as acupuncture were, he said that it could be helpful but not because the needles were inserted into the skin. he added that the 'ancient Chinese didn't know anything about the human anatomy'.
Finally he said that Apple found Steve Jobs might be alive today if he has sought expert medical help sooner.

He explained that the type of pancreatic cancer Jobs had - a neuroendocrine tumour - is cured in 95 per cent of patients by undergoing surgery, but that his choice of esoteric therapies including bowel cleanses and acupuncture ultimately cost him his life.

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