Tag Archives: pharmaceutical research

Forget the Flu Vaccine – Take Vitamin D!

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My most recent blog focused on the new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that stated most people in North America were getting enough vitamin D.  Their research, however, focused only on vitamin D as it pertains to bone health.  Vitamin D does much more than just support healthy bones.  In my opinion, the IOM’s report was way off base and I hope it does not encourage people to stop taking their vitamin D supplements.

As further evidence to this, take this recent research that I ran across today.

A clinical trial led by Mitsuyoshi Urashima and conducted by the Division of Molecular Epidemiology in the the Department of Pediatrics at the Jikei University School of Medicine Minato-ku in Tokyo found that vitamin D was extremely effective at halting influenza infections in children. The trial appears in the March, 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Am J Clin Nutr (March 10, 2010). doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.29094)

The results are from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 334 children, half of which were given 1200 IUs per day of vitamin D3.

In the study, while 31 of 167 children in the placebo group contracted influenza over the four month duration of the study, only 18 of 168 children in the vitamin D group did. This means vitamin D was responsible for an absolute reduction of nearly 8 percent. (www.naturalnews.com)

Only 8 percent?  Yes 8 percent!  That may not seem like a lot, but compare this the most recent research available on flu vaccines which states that they only reduce the incidence of the flu by 1%!

I hear some of you.  You’re saying, “That can’t possibly be correct. My doctor said my flu vaccine will protect me from the flu.  If I get the vaccine, I won’t get sick.”

I’ve got the data to back it up.

The Cochrane Collaboration

The Cochrane Collaboration, as described on its own website, is, “…an international, independent, not-for-profit organization of over 28,000 contributors from more than 100 countries, dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of health care readily available worldwide.”

“We are world leaders in evidence-based health care,” the site goes on to say, followed by a quote from The Lancet which states, “The Cochrane Collaboration is an enterprise that rivals the Human Genome Project in its potential implications for modern medicine.” (www.naturalnews.com)

Anyone who is in health care knows about the Cochrane Collaboration and their studies.  They are some of the most trusted studies in the medical world.

Dr. Tom Jefferson, an epidemiologist, worked closely with the Cochrane Collaboration to evaluate the true effectiveness of the flu vaccines.  His findings were truly surprising to those in the traditional medical field.  You may access a great summary by the authors here for free if you are interested in reading it.  I will summarize it below.

Selection Criteria: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or quasi-RCTs comparing influenza vaccines with placebo or no intervention in naturally-occurring influenza in healthy individuals aged 16 to 65 years.

Main Results: A total of 50 reports were included in the review.  This included a total of about 70,000 people. They concluded that in ideal situations where the vaccine matched the virus in circulation a 4% reduction in flu rates were obtained.  This means 100 people would need to be vaccinated to prevent 4 cases of the flu.  In average conditions where the vaccine does not match the strain of flu virus there was a 1% reduction.  This means 1 case was prevented for every 100 people who get the vaccine.

Even in ideal conditions where the anticipated viral strain included in the vaccine matches the viral strain in the environment it only produced a 4% reduction!  Remember, the flu vaccine makers try to guess which strain of the flu will be most prevalent each season.  They rarely guess correctly because it’s simply not easy to predict. In fact, the Cochrane Report concluded that it is a…”relatively uncommon circumstance [that the] vaccine match[es] the viral circulating strain.”

That means most people that get the flu vaccine are only afforded a 1% reduction rate in the flu.

The Cochrane Report also warned of manipulation of data and evidence of bias on the part of the pharmaceutical industry:

This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration). An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines. The review showed that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies. The content and conclusions of this review should be interpreted in light of this finding.

They also went on to conclude:

Our results may be an optimistic estimate because company-sponsored influenza vaccines trials tend to produce results favorable to their products and some of the evidence comes from trials carried out in ideal viral circulation and matching conditions and because the harms evidence base is limited.

Optimistic?! Wow. If a 1% reduction in flu rates is optimistic, I’d hate to see what realistic is!

So back to vitamin D.  Recall that a placebo controlled study recently released in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vitamin D reduced the rate of flu in children by 8%.  That’s 800% more effective than the vaccines that are available.  I understand that this information steps on a lot of toes, but the numbers don’t lie.

Another plus to vitamin D is that its effectiveness does not rely on matching viral strains and guessing which virus is going to be most prevalent.  It works by regulating your immune system.

Also recall that the IOM says people are getting “enough” vitamin D as long as they are getting 600IU per day.  But this recent study has found added benefit for vitamin D at 1200IU?  Curious.  I think the IOM should reevaluate their stance.

This flu season consider an alternative to the flu shot.  The numbers show that it is not terribly effective.  You’d be better off by eating healthy, exercising and taking a little extra vitamin D.  For adults in the winter I recommend 4,000IU per day.  This will take care of your daily needs as well as protect you from the flu.

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Confessions of a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep

The above video was brought to our attention from a patient of ours who happens to be a medical doctor.  The woman in the video is a former pharmaceutical sales person and speaks about the amazing ways in which Big Pharma tricks doctors into believing what they are prescribing has no downside.

Big business is big business no matter what the company is selling.  Just because the pharmaceutical industry makes drugs that are supposedly good for us (their words, not mine) does not mean they aren’t in it to make as much money as they can possibly make.  The problem is that these drugs are dangerous and Big Pharma tries at every turn to mislead the public and medical professionals to minimize the potential dangers of drugs.  Did you know that 106,000 people per year die from the negative effects of properly prescribed drugs? That number is almost as high as the number of people who die from stroke each year.

I recently read an article about the cholesterol lowering class of drugs called statin medications.  It was a sort of tongue and check article that touched on this subject.  It was written by a chiropractor who works in a hospital.  He has frequent interaction with medical doctors because of this and is privy to the conversations that most people don’t get to hear.  In his article he said that he’s overheard some physicians saying that everyone should be on statin medications because of their “health benefits” and almost nonexistent side effect profile.  He went as far to propose, sarcastically of course, that we should just start putting statins in our water as a measure of public health.  After all we already put fluoride in the water.  Why not add a little statin in there too!?  The problem is that statins have little health benefit and have a very large side effect profile.

Big Pharma is trying to spin these types of ideas day and night.  Anything to increase profits and crush the competition.  At some level, people who work for these corporate giants want to help people and cure diseases.  The problem is that the people in charge care about one thing – money and power.  Power begets money and money begets power.  Once those two things are in the fold, you can forget about honesty in terms of research, marketing and maybe worst of all, political policy.  While they don’t directly control legislation, their 2500+ lobbyists do a great job making sure their interests are well taken care of.

There needs to be a change in the way Big Pharma is regulated.  If we do not, health care prices will continue to increase and America will continue to be one of the unhealthiest nations in the world.

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