I do drink zinfandel and massive, hoppy beers. Ethyl alcohol in your gut can kill B vitamins, which we need to help convert our food to energy. Or so some possible quacks have written.
Then again, I like taking pills. It's fun. Somewhat related to my previous post (<------), I like to think, "This pill can do some amazing, magickal things for me! I might even live to the ripe old age of 55 if I keep up this regimen!"
But sometimes I just feel like a damned fool. And, although I assume the readers of OG are at least as smart as me, probably smarter, I also assume there are a few who will stumble in, look around, and maybe happen upon something they ain't nevah hoidda. That eating "antioxidants" in order to get a leg up healthwise, or even live longer... is quite likely a load of crap. Have you heard that one?
Anyone who follows the MSM will hear "experts" talk about how terrific antioxidants are for your health, and they are!, but only in theory. The free radical theory of aging and disease gave rise to eating supplements - vitamins - because they're antioxidating; they fight the tendency of our bodies to "rust" from the inside.
But a few years ago I looked at the Science that was supposed to bolster these omnipresent claims, and ended by taking the bull by the tail and looking the facts in the face...or however that goes. Two bigtime studies did a lot to convince me that, if I'm taking supplements it ought not be for the "antioxidating" qualities of vitamins.
Two Studies On Antioxidants
One study took 30,000 Finlanders who had a high risk for lung cancer (male smokers aged 50-69), and the study was randomized: you got Vitamin E, beta-carotene, both, or nothing. When the trial was over and the researchers looked to see who got what and how they did, the ones who got beta-carotene did worse than everyone else, and had significantly higher rates of not only lung cancer, but heart disease. Beta-carotene was thought by some to prevent lung cancer, but people who took it (not knowing; they may have been taking a placebo for all they knew) died at a higher rate. See "Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group."
The second study was the Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET, a pun! get it?), and 18,000 smokers who'd been exposed to asbestos were given beta-carotene and Vitamin A or a placebo in a study that was supposed to go on for a long time, but was terminated early because those who were getting the antioxidants were dying at a far faster clip than anyone would have expected. If you turned out to have gotten the Vitamin A and beta-carotene, you were in the group that was 46% more likely to die from lung cancer, and - oddly? - 17% more likely to die from any cause.
These are very hardcore studies: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled. Why have so few of us heard of these studies? The short answer: the vitamin industry uses the same tactics that the tobacco and (now) the anti-climate change people have used: the creation of doubt. "It's controversial!" That's their main way of keeping their show on the road. And it's relatively easy to muddy the waters and claim over and over, "Experts still disagree."
The thing that had many experts believing antioxidants might help stave off disease was the free radical theory. It seemed like a good idea on paper, but we're more complex beings; lots can happen between the swallow of a pill and...results compared to other at-risk people and some placebos, and some time. We also found out that we lose bone mass as we age, so calcium supplements seemed like a natural remedy. But calcium turned out to not really help. In fact, calcium supplementation seemed to raise the heart-attack risk for older women. Women's hormones cause them all sorts of woe after a certain age, so hormone-replacement therapy seemed like a cracking good idea, on paper. Theoretically. But the actual story was quite unimpressive, even scary. Have you heard of the calcium and hormone studies but not the Vitamin A studies? If so, why? Could it have to do with $$$$?
One thing I've learned from reading guys like Ioannidis and a few others (including, Alfred Korzybski) is that reductionist claims are seductive: they play to our rational sense of cause-effect. But when it comes to health and the human body, I am very suspicious of blood tests (with some exceptions that have proven to be statistical winners/slam dunks), animal studies, flow charts of molecules and interactions, and even aye: "theory."
Let us see many more massive randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled long-range studies done, with lots of sunlight on who was paying for the study.
Do I still take the concoction of "Men's Formula" from Trader Joe's? Yes. Why? Because I'm sorta lame, and besides, I'm scaling back! I can kick, if I just have the Will.