Blog | Thursday, April 9, 2009

Comparative effectiveness needs publicity, along with research


Since you're reading this blog, you probably already know that the evidence against vitamins has been piling up. Several recent studies have indicated that the disease-preventing properties of fruits and veggies don't carry through when extracted into vitamin pills.

But apparently the word has not gotten out to the general public. Or so it seems from a recent New York Times article which is likely to send shivers down the spine of any believer in evidence-based medicine. The article describes a recession-linked upturn in vitamin sales (new customers up 20% at the Vitamin Shoppe in the last six months) and quotes several economizing shoppers who are replacing their prescription meds and doctor visits with vitamin and supplement purchases. There's even a physician-assistant student who has cut back on fruits and vegetables to buy fish oil and antioxidant supplements.

Ack! It's one thing to spend a little disposable income on probably useless vitamins, but to buy them instead of healthy food? Of that $400 mill the government's planning to spend on comparative effectiveness research, maybe a little should go toward telling people about the things we already know are ineffective.