Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Don't Waste Your Money!

This is my cabinet. Yes – lots of bottles of lots of vitamins. And if I am to believe a bunch of recent studies, I am wasting my money because these don’t help fight diseases or cancers. Honestly, I don’t have the patience to read all these different studies, but my friend, Dr. Walt, summarizes them quite nicely in his blog entry here (look for “Are multivitamins helpful or harmful…?).

I may not be a scientist and I may not be a mathematician, but I have taken a couple of probability and statistics classes. What I remember from those classes is that studies can be easily skewed – intentionally or unintentionally. It depends upon what questions you ask, how long the study lasts, if it is double-blind, placebo-controlled, how the participants were chosen… the list goes on. Plus, there’s also the question of who funded the study, who controlled the publication of the results, and who was in charge of writing up the study.

Have I lost you yet? These are all questions that most reporters don’t ask – mainly because they either don’t know to ask them, don’t have time to ask them, or don’t have the opportunity to ask them. As a former news producer, I know I was looking for information to fill my 30 minutes that grabbed people’s attention. That left little time for asking questions.

Headlines like “Multivitamins Don’t Help and Could Hurt” grab that attention. When I see that headline, my first question is, “What vitamins were the participants taking?” Most vitamins don’t help and could hurt (since companies don’t test them for purity or potency before they’re sold. It’s not required by FDA).

The great thing about Shaklee is that their products are backed by scientific studies – published in peer-reviewed journals, checked by independent laboratories. (Shaklee wants to protect against unintentional bias of its own researchers.) The biggest study conducted on Shaklee products and their users is called the Landmark Study. You can read about it here. Shaklee paid for the study, because Roger Barnett (the owner) wanted to study long-time Shaklee users. However, Dr. Gladys Block from UC Berkley’s School of Public Health retained control of the results. If the results showed Shaklee in a bad light, Dr. Block would still publish them. Instead, the results knocked Dr. Block’s socks off.

Basically, long-time Shaklee users had significantly lower incidences of diabetes, heart disease, heart attacks, etc and lower cholesterol levels, c-reactive protein levels, etc. (All the details are spelled out in the Landmark Study flyer, available for download at www.landmarkstudy.com).

Bottom line: The most expensive vitamin you’ll ever take is the one that doesn’t work. Shaklee vitamins work – and have the science to back it up.

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