Vitamins- A Follow Up


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thinkingcap.gifThanks to Dr. Read, I was able to get my hands on an actual press release involving my last post about the speculation that vitamins cause early death. As we have learned by now, wording is everything. As you know from my last post (I recommend you read that before reading this one or else you will be terribly confused), the article that I found stated that this study found early death to be a result of taking vitamins in both men and women, despite the fact that the study was only performed on women. This accusation was lost in translation somehow, because according to the press release, "consuming dietary supplements, including multivitamins, folic acid, iron and copper, among others, appears to be associated with an increased risk of death in older women." Similarly, the actual report concludes, "In older women, several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality risk; this association is strongest with supplemental iron. In contrast to the findings of many studies, calcium is associated with decreased risk."

In the study itself, I have a problem with their classification of mortality. From what I understood of this medical journal, they classified death as, "Deaths through December 31, 2008 identified annually through the State Health Registry of Iowa or the National Death Index for participants who did not respond to the follow-up questionnaires or emigrated from Iowa." Last time I checked, choosing to not answer a survey or moving to another state does not make us dead. This made me raise an eyebrow, but the press release failed to mention this classification of death, which may have led to this whole study being blown out of proportion.

Despite this mix-up, the press release is surprisingly accurate for the most part. Its conclusion was quite similar to that of the actual study, and all of the numbers match up. So where on earth did this article get such different information? To be honest, I have no idea. Never in the study or press release do these results relate to men, yet this article makes it very clear to prove otherwise. While some of the "problems" with the study (mentioned in my first blog post) are indeed true, such as confounding variables, I disagree that the study does not represent its population. The study concludes that vitamins are showing higher risk of mortality in older women, and that is the demographic used in the sample. If this conclusion was to be about ALL age groups and genders, then obviously this would not represent the population.

Basically, don't always believe what you read online, even if it does look like a trustworthy source.


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