Monday, June 10, 2013

On our own

"Eat your spinach," "Take your vitamins," "Live like a caveman."  There is lots of accumulating evidence on how to live longer and better.  I learned a lot from Marlene Zuk's Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet and How We Live, and have abandoned plans to do the caveman thing.

The serious research never stops and we learn new things all the time.  We have better access to information than ever and the responsibility to go on seeking, learning and deciding is each individual's personal responsibility. 

Agencies like the Food and Drug Administration are supposed to help us in this project.  But the FDA operates in a political context, as does every set of regulators. (This truism is often overlooked as part of the blame for the financial crisis is placed on "deregulation" or "inadequate" "lax" financial sector regulation.)

Yesterday's NY Times included "Don't Take Your Vitamins".  It appears that there is accumulating evidence of real health danger from megadoses of some vitamins. 

And the same story reports that the FDA has been politicized! There are shocking revelations each day. The IRS, the SEC, the NSA, and now the FDA.

I still have no idea what it will take to wean some Americans away from their faith in "regulation."

Here is the punch-line from the Times story:
In December 1972, concerned that people were consuming larger and larger quantities of vitamins, the F.D.A. announced a plan to regulate vitamin supplements containing more than 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin makers would now have to prove that these “megavitamins” were safe before selling them. Not surprisingly, the vitamin industry saw this as a threat, and set out to destroy the bill. In the end, it did far more than that.

Industry executives recruited William Proxmire, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin, to introduce a bill preventing the F.D.A. from regulating megavitamins. On Aug. 14, 1974, the hearing began.

A little more than a month later, Mr. Proxmire’s bill passed by a vote of 81 to 10. In 1976, it became law. Decades later, Peter Barton Hutt, chief counsel to the F.D.A., wrote that “it was the most humiliating defeat” in the agency’s history.

As a result, consumers don’t know that taking megavitamins could increase their risk of cancer and heart disease and shorten their lives; they don’t know that they have been suffering too much of a good thing for too long.
We are on our own and it was foolish to ever believe otherwise