Ask Ray | Study shows a 30% lower rate of breast cancer mortality with supplement use

December 30, 2013 by Terry Grossman

(credit: Springer)

Dear readers,

Here is a study coming out of the large and well respected Women’s Health Initiative showing positive results for supplements and breast cancer.

Unfortunately, the media has largely ignored it.

It seems there is a strong media bias to headline studies suggesting negative or no benefit results and to ignore positive ones that do show benefit. For example, this study shows a 30% lower rate of breast cancer mortality with supplement use:

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment | “Multivitamin and mineral use and breast cancer mortality in older women with invasive breast cancer in the women’s health initiative”

Here is a related discussion of the findings in Medscape:
Medscape | “Vitamins might reduce breast cancer mortality”

[excerpt] “Older women who developed invasive breast cancer while taking multivitamin supplements with minerals had a 30% lower rate of breast cancer mortality than women who did not take supplements, according to an analysis of data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The finding was published online October 7 in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.”

Along the same lines of the media not disseminating studies that show problems with conventional medicine, please see:

UPI | “No surgery produced the same results as knee surgery, according to Finnish study”

This was a very interesting study where patients either underwent “real” surgery to repair/remove knee cartilage, or sham surgery where they had the same incisions and “pretend” operative movements (as they were awake). This study was done in Finland, as I doubt it could have been approved in the U.S.

Placebo patients reported a greater degree of satisfaction than “real” surgery patients.

This surgery is done half a million times a year in the U.S. At an average of $12,500 per procedure, this is more than $6 billion of surgery — with all the pain, risk of infection, etc. associated with surgery — that was shown to be no more effective than placebo.

Even worse, in my experience, patients who have meniscal cartilage removed from their knees, as in this study, are much more likely to wear down the cartilage covering the ends of their bones, often resulting in severe arthritis, and the need for joint replacement surgery years down the line.

I have seen no mention of this study in any mainstream media.

If a complementary treatment, say acupuncture, were shown not to be more helpful than placebo, the odds are that it would receive widespread press coverage.

By cherry picking which studies are published, the illusion is created that conventional treatments work, while alternative therapies (including supplements) do not.

Very best,
Terry Grossman, MD

related reading:
profile | Terry Grossman, MD
profile | Ray Kurzweil

related reading:
Life Extension Foundation | “Flawed research used to attach multivitamin supplements”
Albert Einstein College of Medicine | “Multivitamins may protect older women with invasive breast cancer”

related reading:
Ask Ray | “Oral nutritional supplementation decreases hospitalization length by 21% says report”
Ask Ray | “Supplement study quoted in The Wall Street Journal is misleading”

related books:
book by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, MD | Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever
book by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, MD | TRANSCEND: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever