Friday, October 31, 2008

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Satan (cancer) clause" Naturally Speaking by Christopher C. Barr

More than a decade ago a Christmas Day message of cheer and hope disclosed the brightest light against cancer ever found with the mineral selenium—a nutrient called a trace element due to being needed in such a tiny amount. The story made the front page on newspapers across America.

Worse-than-Grinch groups are trying to grab that treat with a dastardly trick just in time for Halloween this year.

The National Cancer Institute has made its official pronouncement in conjunction with others that selenium supplements do not benefit the prostate.

We do not recommend supplements”, said Dr. Peter Greenwald after the phenomenal success of the selenium study of the 1990s. Greenwald was then as now director of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

Yes, the man in charge of cancer prevention studies for the United States has a predetermined bias against nutrition supplements.

“We do not recommend supplements” is the Satan clause.

Where there’s a will there’s a way

The first action of NCI was inaction. They tried to ignore selenium hoping the subject would go away (ignorance has been a primary part of the NCI for decades).

Selenium continued to get attention for its cancer prevention possibilities so NCI took an old page from its anti-nutrient playbook.

Decades ago a strong link was established for high levels of the nutrient beta carotene in food against lung cancer in a long term study.

A second study was set up – and set up is the operative phrase here—but a man-made, synthesized form of beta carotene was used rather than a 100 per cent whole food form of beta carotene.

There is a difference – and you’re body knows the difference – between 100 per cent whole food nutrients and man-made, synthetic varieties of nutrients (so-called).

Man-made forms of nutrients look different under the microscope than the forms that are grown in food – formed only as The Almighty can form them through (and with) life.

Man-made forms of nutrients also act differently than the 100 per cent whole food nutrients.

Nutrients formed through life processes are always superior to those made by man. Usually there is a significant difference. Sometimes the difference is small. On occasion the man-made variety may even cause harm.

The beta carotene study that utilized the man-made variety was stopped early because preliminary results revealed a notable increase in lung cancer among those taking it rather than a decrease in lung cancer as had been noted in the study with dietary beta carotene.

The experts (so called) determined that beta carotene could be dangerous as it increased lung cancer. If that were the case then healthful eating habits would be comparable to cigarette smoking for cancer risk.

The facts of the matter were that synthetic beta carotene was the problem and not the actual nutrient beta carotene. Tragically, man-made varieties of nutrients make up the vast majority of all supplements in the marketplace.

The NCI concocted a selenium study using a man-made variety of selenium rather than using a 100 per cent whole food selenium such as that which demonstrated the tremendous success of the previous study.

The form of selenium used by NCI has been found to have a very insignificant antioxidant activity – especially when compared to 100 per cent whole food selenium such as was used in the successful study.

High dose use of vitamin E was also added to this study. One of the first things I learned in my selenium studies dating back to the 1970s was that if it was combined with high dose vitamin E usage then the antioxidant activity of the selenium was greatly reduced.

So this new NCI study utilized a variety of selenium with low antioxidant activity that was then mixed with high dose vitamin E which further diminishes antioxidant activity of selenium.

Oh, and the vitamin E used was a man-made, synthetic variety.

The new study was reported this week as stopped years short of completion because no positive benefit had been seen. However, benefits are not likely to show up in a short period of time.

There are many other deficiencies in this latest study. I’ve seen less holes in Swiss cheese than in this NCI prostate cancer study with selenium and vitamin E.

Call me ‘Prophet’

Ever since the new NCI selenium (and vitamin E) study was started only a few years ago I have said you don’t have to wait for results of this one. I could already tell you that they were not going to have the success of the previous study due to poor quality supplements and poor study design. The only way this study was well designed was for failure.

Also, I had noted that I wouldn’t be surprised if they somehow ascribed some harm from selenium.

Sure enough the NCI noted a very small increase in diabetes among those using selenium though they admitted it was so small a difference as to be inconsequential and “may be due to chance”. Yet they hung the suspicion out very prominently.

Yup, call me ‘Prophet’.

Tangled web

The very successful selenium cancer study of more than a decade ago was dismissed by Dr. Peter Greenwald who noted multiple studies of selenium and cancer would be necessary before coming to any conclusions. Yet he is now satisfied to conclude selenium is of no value after only ONE other study – and an exceedingly flawed study at that.

A drug, finasteride (Proscar/Propecia) was noted to still be able to reduce prostate cancer incidence though it was noted that side effects limit its use.

What was not noted is that the side effects include loss of prostate functions, greater amounts of more aggressive prostate cancers and even death.


With friends like Dr. Peter Greenwald and his NCI cohorts who needs enemies?

Yes, Virginia, Dr. Peter Greenwald’s “We do not recommend supplements” is the Satan clause.

Christopher C. Barr writes Naturally Speaking from Arkansas: The Natural State … naturally! You may write him at P. O. Box 1147, Pocahontas, Arkansas 72455 or by e-mail at

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