To Your Health! – Page 7

A healthy diet and a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement are now usually recommended by doctors. However, according to recent findings, one must use caution in adding certain specific nutritional supplements on top of this. As always, check with your doctor first as to what and how much. Anyhow, here are the ones to be cautious about –

Folic Acid (though very helpful in preventing certain birth defects) is now believed to raise the risk of colon cancer when taken at 1 mg daily (which many in a 2007 study were doing). Most grains and cereals contain it. For supplementation, consult your doctor or other health specialist.

A 2008 study found that taking high doses of Vitamin E may increase risk for long cancer, especially among smokers. Also, such high doses can interact negatively with common prescriptions.

Selenium taken at 400 mcg. daily may raise the risk of premature death according to a Johns Hopkins study. Many selenium pills contain half this amount. Another study connected excess selenium to development of type 2 diabetes after 7 years of supplementation.

Beta-Carotene taken as additional supplement may raise the risk of cancer and heart disease according to several studies.

I must admit that I looked at this article with some skepticism at first. I am one of those avid readers of natural healing journals that tell us that the big pharmaceutical companies are in business to make big bucks off of people who are sick (not people who are well) and that they could even go so far as to discourage the use of natural, safe remedies for that very reason.

Now when I see a clinical trial or study, I ask who is the source of it (particularly who paid for it). I am inclined to ask whether a pharmaceutical firm doing or paying for such trials would skew evidence (even if they did not precisely falsify it). Journals sometimes say that most doctors are under a constant barrage of pharmaceutical salesmen who give them a spiel about their latest nostrums then leave them an abundance of free samples to try out on their patients (in the hopes that such patients will buy their products  rather than going to the trouble of investigating alternative cures and preventions).

These journals often say that doctors are taught to use pharmaceuticals, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation etc. exclusively rather than even try natural alternatice means and that they view alternative means as the hocus-pocus of mountebanks and charlatans. Such journals advocate the layman taking charge of his own health and making mature, informed choices rather than seeing doctors and pharmaceutical companies in a paternalistic way.

The above allegations by natural healing specialists may be true or partially true. However, there is also no reason to believe the manufacturers of nutritional supplements are purely altruistic either. They, too, manufacture a product for sale (sometimes at astonishing prices).

Also, the rigorous testing that pharmaceutical companies are obligated by law to perform before putting a product on the market evidently do not apply to manufacturers of natural supplements. Note that in television commercials for a pharmaceutical, we are told the negative side effects (if any) even while we watch the smiling cured patients. You rarely see the same information on natural supplements.

I am inclined to go the natural route when possible, but am not the extremist that some are. I want to make the most informed decision possible about what I put into or on my body. I, therefore, take the above cautionary information under advisement and would urge you to do the same until we learn the whole truth (if ever).

Last, do not forget that there is a difference in a true double-blind study and other less accurate means of collecting information. Also, the passage of time exposes more information as more individuals of different body chemistry, ethnicity, health status, etc. are tested under a plethora of conditions. – My personal advice is to always consult The Great Physician! It is said that He heals, but the doctor gets the pay.

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