Shame on AMA’s Archives of Internal Medicine

October 11, 2011
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Did you hear the breaking news last night—that multivitamins may shorten your life? Here’s how junk science from the AMA set off the media frenzy.

Bloomberg phrased it this way: “Multivitamins and some dietary supplements, used regularly by an estimated 234 million US adults, may do more harm than good, according to a study that tied their use to higher death rates among older women.” The study’s authors outrageously concluded, “We see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements.”

The study, published in the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) Archives of Internal Medicine, assessed the use of vitamin and mineral supplements in nearly 39,000 women whose average age was 62. The researchers asked the women to fill out three surveys, the first in 1986, the second in 1997, and the last in 2004, reporting what supplements they took and what foods they ate, and answering a few questions about their health.

That’s right, all the data was self-reported by the study subjects only three times over the course of the 19-year-long study. To say the data is “unreliable” would be a generous description. This kind of “data” has no place in a valid scientific study.

Then the researchers looked at how many of the women had died by 2008. They reported that the number of deaths were somewhat higher for women who took copper, a little bit lower for women who took calcium, but about average for most of the women.

In the study, all of the relative risks were so low as to be barely statistically significant, and none was backed up by any medical investigation or biological plausibility study. No analysis was done on what combinations of vitamins and minerals were actually consumed, and no analysis of the cause of death was done beyond grouping for “cancer,” “cardiovascular disease,” or “other”—there was certainly no causative analysis done. The interactions of potential compounding risk factors is always tremendously complex—and was ignored in this so-called study.

“Multivitamin” can mean many different things, and of course changed tremendously over the 19 years during which this “study” was conducted. Were they high quality?  Were the ingredients synthetic or natural?  How much of each nutrient was taken? Were they really taken at all? How good is anyone’s memory in describing what took place over many years? One would assume that that the women’s diets fluctuated greatly over the same period; when self-reporting only three times in 19 years, there is a great deal of information one would naturally leave out even if some of it was accurate. No analysis was done of the effect of supplements on the women’s overall health, nor of their effect on women of other ages.

According to Dr. Robert Verkerk the Executive & Scientific Director of ANH-International;

“This study is a classic example of scientific reductionism being used to fulfill a particular need. In this case, it’s supplement bashing, a well-known preoccupation of Big Pharma — and an approach that appears to be central to the protection of Big Pharma’s profit margins.”

Read Dr. Verkerk’s article critical of the AMA’s goals and scientific methodology here.

In short, this study is less than useless: it is dangerous, because it is being used by the media and the mainstream medical establishment to blacken the eye of nutritional supplements using poor data, bad analysis, and specious conclusions—otherwise known as junk science.

239 Responses to “Shame on AMA’s Archives of Internal Medicine

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  3. Seeing that, that artical of such non-scientific evident research has gone you you should think about your health in result to your life and how certain medical treatments can be related to as to how, you could have a stonger belief in taking your vitamins but no, you must not. Just think how you affect the public belief there of such knowledge of they are doing so and many are firm belivers that in all cases the doctor or a friend is concerned if you take your vitamins and how can you sleep at night your Mom must be upset with you where ever she is.


  4. The study, published in the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) Archives of Internal Medicine,assessed the use of vitamin and mineral supplements in nearly 39,000 women whose average age was 62. The researchers asked the women to fill out three surveys, the first in 1986, the second in 1997, and the last in 2004, reporting what supplements they took and what foods they ate, and answering a few questions about their health.

    That’s right, all the data was self-reported by the study subjects only three times over the course of the 19-year-long study. To say the data is “unreliable” would be a generous description. This kind of “data” has no place in a valid scientific study.


  5. It’s interesting that one of the study’s authors advises that vitamins “be used with a strong medically based cause;” in other words, when you get sick, you should take them. To me, that’s like closing the barn door after the horse has gotten out! Here’s what I know: Your body needs minerals. Ninety-five percent of your body’s daily functions are mineral-dependent. Your body can’t make minerals; your body also needs antioxidants, phytonutrients and glyconutrients. It needs way more vitamin D3 than you can get drinking milk. So that leaves you two options: Eat foods that you know are rich in the 65+ minerals every day, along with foods rich in vitamins and phytonutrients. And while you’re at it, get your kids to eat those foods every day, and somehow track it so you make sure you’re all getting enough every day…or take a shot of Vemma, as recommended by Dr. Mehmet Oz in a magazine article.


  6. Carolyn Mordecai says:

    I recently went as an emergency patient to major hospital in Phoenix with labyrinth vertigo. I told them I was allergic to allopathic medicine and they didn’t believe me. When they convinced me to take just one pill, I almost died. As a result, I was rudely kicked out of the hospital and told never to come back. At the age of 75, I do not know what I would do without access to herbal supplements and vitamins. Now the government and allopathic medical association through the FDA want to limit public access to vitamins and herbs!!! A vote will be coming up soon and you don’t even hear about it in the Media.


  7. Junk Science and stupidity and the gain of the all mighty dollar is behind this abuse to American’s.
    I don’t take drugs ever…..I eat certain foods and take nutrients without side effects. There is no such thing as overdosing vitamins and minerals…..nature knows best.


  8. Robin M says:

    We are a country that was built on freedom, but are fast becoming government owned, we are in a sad state, this country of ours, Mr. MacLeod has it right, and he has only, just touched, on the issues. I’ve been in the Health Food Industry for over 20 years, and have been fighting this battle for years to keep our supplements safe, We only need look at the TV to see that now, as the big pharma advertise their drugs, the side affects are truly scary, yet, can they show us the same results of god given herbs.

    We will always have those few individuals out there that will say if one pill helps, more will do better, and they, in their ignorance, are the ones that hurt our industry when they get sick, because of their own doing, then demand for someone other than themselves to be responsible for it.

    A boy becomes a man at the age of 18 when he chooses to enlist in the army, or so he is told, yet in the same token, is also told that he isn’t smart enough to decide what supplement he can take. We can fight for our country, pay taxes, yet have no say so, on what we take as supplements? It’s called government control, and if left unchecked, we as individuals will no longer have any rights. Is that what we want?

    With that said, right after Sen Orin Hatch worked on passing the bill to protect our rights to take supplements, a few years back, I have also seen it open up another side to our industry. Companies that have come in, that put together low quality supplements that aren’t the best. It’s like everyone jumped on the band wagon, because they could, to make a buck. It unfortunatey tends to make our industry look bad, when these supplements are produced, but don’t work as well as they should. I would love to see a committee within our industry, assembled, to look into things like this, but I feel like it should stay within the industry, and Not government controlled.

    You see MSG in just about every food, yet no one knows the dangers it carries, milk, that the ppm’s (puss per million) is way over the limit, and it goes right into the milk that is sent to market, the antibiotics that are put on the udders of the cows at dairy farms, to fight the infection from being milked so often, also in the milk. ………….Why doesn’t FDA do something about this, there’s no money to be made, by them, that’s why.

    I guess this is enough said, I could go on and on, but won’t. People, if they don’t start taking a stand, will have no one to blame but themselves, when we lose all rights as american citizens of the United States of America!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • Kevin Verly says:

      I am a disabled father and like minded understanding you are right about your post and I , for one will take a stand when the Government will come to a vote to abolish an amendment which is the reason a doctor goes to school to bs and come out to talk bs and give some sort of injection that does worse than some proven stuff, that is better and has only one problem it can’t make a claim because of the fact that it is a supplementation of which the FDA is hiding in the mists of millions of people fed up with the health care. That started in 1994!! People that are sick and tired of getting sick again and dying wrongful cause, of the studies that are not done and the that they aren’t doing cause of a stupid bunch of people taking advantage of dollars for lives back in 1994.
      I take Vemma and it is better for me now then any drug will be!! Or any sort of nock off junk pill in any of the market of wich is governed by FDA.. or that is illeagally passed with the dollar.
      V E M M A =Vitamin Essencial Minerals Mangosteen Aloe vera
      This has brought health to my life and wealth to my pocket book to git me off Social Security of 7 years, in 3 months i will be a better happier person knowing that I nor my family will never need to rely on U S or any Gov. assisted program.


  9. Colleen Nye says:

    There is plenty of news out there to report on that is trustworthy and worth reporting. This last report about vitamins was just too low to go. I am angry about this report that vitamins can cause early death. Anyone with common sense knows how vitamins work on the cellular level and they can only do good, unlike the “hypocritic oath” these doctors that take, promising to do no harm first and foremost. I don’t like to hear when doctors are telling patients how long they will live, they are not our Almighty God. The Medical Schools that are teaching these doctors need to change completely from the inside out. A new way is about to emerge that will teach the truth about nutrition and supplements and spiritual awareness. Jesus still heals today. God is real and very much alive and in control.


    • Kevin Verly says:

      did you vote to have drugs and chose what to eat and how to supplement your needs. well you may could have been a part of this history in the making, would you still want that to be the one that puts words in to peoples mouths and make them belief that croc or the dead doc. or the one in Jail even doctors that chose different are still doing so to put words in the mouths of peps pepets when to stand is like here or not at all when others chose to move to to be longer lived with juice then to wait it out.
      get sick or die trying is the key just point the direction in life and see a better option.
      Can you think for any reason beyond any reasonable doubt that now is the time to abolish the the stupid that made this chaos possible and tell them they made a mistake and let it be as it was before the 1994 Amendment , and remove the Adminitration and put in a new policy one that protects the the reseached evidence and gives possible truth and let right be safe and wrong doing be illeagal. So that i can go to Mc Donolds and still order off the menu as well. not to get sick but be healthy and maybe a side of vitamin and herb with pastachio fruit salad. And NOT get in trouble with legalities OVER the problem with beef, mabe cow is better as milk instead. I know for a fact my mommy gave the life of immunnity from the breast of her own and now i need more cause my body don’t provide the same properties of such.


  10. Lois says:

    Is there some way that the above information regarding that ridiculous article could be spread to the media and made known to the general public?


  11. Ian MacLeod says:

    Interesting that they release this anti-supplement “study” just now, when there’s a Codex-oriented bill up for votes that all but makes them illegal! With this corporate government we have now, it may as well be deliberately trying to cull the populace, as a lot of people say is happening. And it IS still national policy to follow a “Depopulation Program” formulated and recommended by Kissingers study group in 1974; it was quietly adopted that year for Third World countries that had resources or location we might want one day, but it appears to have been extended to the U.S. populace now per the beliefs of David Rockefeller and other ‘elites’. There’s a YouTube set of speeches by him, and even one featuring the Baron du Rothschild talking about it. There’s also a short interview with an NSA administrator of an office in that agency dedicated to depopulation in which the man says that if countries have been set population goals by the IMF in an austerity program and failed to achieve the set goals, then his office “takes a hand.” These people are all up front about it – it just doesn’t get any traction in the MSM. Considering that it’s owned by a total of six people, I guess that’s understandable.

    Keep going though and you run into things like the new blackout decreed by Obama on the Calhoun plant in Nebraska, another in Missouri, and radiation levels in the US from Fukushima that are so high some scientists are flabbergasted that we haven’t evacuated the Pacific Northwest! There ARE things that can be done to mitigate the effects and to protect against some exposure, and we’re not being told about that either – we have to look it up on the Internet, and that information tends to disappear sometimes. Then we have the US using threats, blackmail and bribery – and the usual redacted statistics – trying to force countries in the EU to accept growth hormones in meat like ractopamine, which is illegal in 160 countries, Farmers get an added $1-$3 per animal, but the stuff is poison and doesn’t clear from the meat. Citizens aren’t told, and we eat that along with the sodium nitrites and nitrates and other additives that other countries don’t use, and our meat is banned all over the world because it’s toxic and MAKES PEOPLE SICK! Then there’s the FDA, which now has a Monsanto lobbyist as second-in-command; brilliant. FDA admin ignores the FDA’s own scientists and approves drugs with lousy records in studies – that never make it into public view. A lot of new meds get recalled within the first five years of use. SSRI’s are based on fluoride compounds that cause damage while they’re being taken, and when the patient tries to quit they cause the symptoms they;re being taken to mitigate in the first place, but so badly that patient and doctor assume it was helping and reinstate the med, not realizing that those exacerbated symptoms are caused as a side-effect of trying to quit!

    The list seems endless – we’re being poisoned form all directions. I haven’t even started in on food yet, really, and Big Ag is pushing as hard as it can to keep up the dangerous factory farming of plants and animals that cause so many recalls and disease outbreaks, and most of all, they’re pushing GMOs, which have now been shown to be very dangerous to the health of ANY creature that consumes them, or even takes in ingredients derived from them! Then there’s the environmental pollution. *sigh* If there really is no “depopulation agenda,” there may as well be! But there is – too many agency heads and administrators have talked about it, and there are simply too many records that admit to it. What we’re NOT being told is that it’s now being applied to the American people. With the Constitution being totally ignored or, if some part of it gets in the way there’s always the Right-Wing heavy, corporate-owned SCOTUS to turn any laws or interpretations on their heads for the corporations.

    With the Congress cooperating with the alphabet soup Intel services and the power mad Do to criminalize anything and everything so as to add profits to the Private Prison industry cum slave rental industry, which is busy finishing off any union activity in the U.S., Americans have just about no chance unless we all stand up on our hind legs and make a LOT of noise! And we’ve seen what happens there too: peaceful protesters attacked and mauled by badge-wearing thugs, “free speech zones” blocks or miles away from the people who need to hear what we have to say, preemptive incarceration, and now anyone can be arrested and held indefinitely on suspicion alone, and everyone is a suspect1 Go where they can’t get to you or it’s too inconvenient and Obama will just order your assassination.

    This may be “Game Over”.



  12. This is unbelievable well unfortunately I do believe it. It is tragic that I am not surprised that the AMA would conduct a “study” in the manner. I mean common sense tells you that well made supplements can only help. I am over due for writing a post on my blog maybe I will touch on this. I have spent the last week revamping my blog, AGAIN lol. I am new to blogging and have been learning everything the hard way. Anyone who has a moment come check it out and leave a comment about the new look thanks


  13. Mary Hoot says:

    I have been supplementing my diet with natural herbs and vitamins. I also have used organics fruits and vegetables when I could get them.. They have come down in price as more gardeners are looking at the advantages of using fresh rather than shipped half – way around the globe. I lost faith in the medical profession a long time ago when I had bronchitis and asked the doctor if he thought if I stopped smoking it would help and he said “no”. Good thing I didn’t follow his advice. That was 40 years ago. I fully embrace the use of a doctor if I were to break something! I feel the people who care about natural health should be working as hard to keep our rights as the gov’t. and Big Pharma are working to take them away from us. Remember folks, this group, Alliance for Health could probably use your financial assistance.


    • Carolyn says:

      I also lost faith in the general medical profession 20 years ago, when, at 35 i was diagnosed with every thing from bronchitis to pneumonia to asthma, until a year later they found out i had inoperable lung cancer. Luckily i searched out one of the only surgeons in the world that could actually do the operation (notice i said “I” searched out) I found a naturopath (Dr. Peter D’Adamo) and worked with him through out my surgery and recovery for a year. Happy to say that i have been taking supplements ever since, especially Vitamin D, Krill, Ubiquinol, resveratrol, Magnesium – everything varying according to my particular needs at the time, but consistant – and i eat good, real food (organic when ever possible) not processed or prepared, no sodas or any junk foods. AND….No Cancer…20 years later.
      Imagine if i had believed the Dr. when he said i probably wouldn’t make much past 3 months!


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