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by October 31, 2012
A new study put out by the Archives of Internal Medicine inspired some sensational and misleading headlines in major news outlets around the country. The study, which used questionable science to begin with, asserted there is a relationship between supplement use and early mortality in a small subset of older women.
But this limited study inspired radical headlines like this one from Fox News: "Are Your Supplements Killing You?"
The fact is the study did not show that vitamin and mineral supplements are dangerous -- not for the general population and not conclusively for even the small segment of older women it covered. But by completely misrepresenting the study as something that applies to all people and as something unquestionable, the media has created a firestorm that could influence regulators and authorities.
We can't let this poor journalism go unanswered. Tell major media to take a closer look at this study and do their homework before publishing misleading news stories.
A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine "Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women" has caught the attention on the media in a big way, often giving rise to lurid and completely misleading headlines like Fox News' "Are Your Supplements Killing You?" This kind of yellow journalism -- ignoring the context of the study and not doing due diligence to ensure it was properly conducted -- is unacceptable and could have serious consequences. I expect better of your organization.
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The study itself was potentially flawed -- a point overlooked in your reports. But worst of all the media reporting was completely skewed and mis reported the study. Even taking its conclusions at face value, media headlines and much of the media coverage has been patently false or misleading.
For example, the study did NOT show that vitamin and mineral supplements are dangerous -- not for the general population, and not even for the small segment of older women covered by the study. In fact, the study actually found, before the data was "adjusted" to create a specific outcome, that supplement users were generally healthier.
Because this study could be used by many authorities trying to restrict supplement availability and choice, it is critical that the media take a closer look at this flawed study and issue corrections for the sensational headlines and poor reporting.
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