Oz complementary healthcare body trains guns on authors of latest slur

19-Dec-2013 - By RJ Whitehead
CHC:  “It will be a huge shame for Australian consumers if this type of one-sided approach influences the recognition of the very real need for vitamin and mineral supplementation."
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The newly installed, tough-talking chief executive of the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia has a new target in his sights after hitting out at the “misguided approach” by some academics towards non-conventional medicine.

Having already slammed the findings of researchers in both the United States and New Zealand during his short tenure at the helm of the CHC, Carl Gibson has now trained his guns on the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, after it published an editorial under the title “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements”.

The article followed the release of two new studies showing that supplements do not prevent chronic diseases or cancer. This research also appeared in the journal this week.

Little effect on subjects

The authors reference one study that looked at the effects of a daily multivitamin on preventing cognitive decline among nearly 6,000 men aged 65 and older. A follow-up with the participants conducted 12 years later showed there was no difference in overall cognitive performance or verbal memory between the multivitamin group and the placebo group.

They also called on another study that looked at the potential benefits of a high-dose multivitamin on around 1,700 men and women who had suffered a heart attack and were at a high risk of suffering another heart attack or a stroke. A follow-up with the patients more than four years later showed no significant difference in cardiovascular events between the multivitamin group and the placebo group.

"Despite sobering evidence of no benefit or possible harm, use of multivitamin supplements increased among US adults," the editorial bemoaned.

"Supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with [most] mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.”

Closed minded

However, Gibson claimed the article demonstrated a “closed-minded approach that attempts to dismiss even the proven benefits of vitamins and minerals, completely failing to acknowledge the significant and ever-growing body of research that exists to support dietary supplementation”.

He said: “It will be a huge shame for Australian consumers if this type of one-sided approach influences the recognition of the very real need for vitamin and mineral supplementation. In Australia, as in the US, the typical person’s food and lifestyle choices fall far short of the desired healthy diet and healthy behaviours.”

It’s not all doom and gloom for the CHC, which recently welcomed the publication of the World Health Organisation’s Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023, which is intended to support countries to harness the potential contribution that complementary medicines, including vitamins and minerals, can make to health, wellness and people-centred health care through appropriate integration into health systems.

If it shows anything at all, the editorial highlights the fact that academics also fall short of the cohesive and integrative approach that will ultimately allow consumers to access complementary medicines in an effective, safe and respectful manner,” added Gibson.

Related topics: Fortification, Formulation, Policy, Supplements, Australia - New Zealand