by Carol L. Ohnesorge
February 04, 2008
The cover of the November 2007 issue of
Reader's Digest magazine makes a strong statement
through a featured article entitled The Vitamin Hoax: 10 Not to
Written by Reader's Digest Senior
Research Editor, Neena Samuel, the article cautions
readers not to be duped into purchasing vitamins and supplements.
She seems concerned by the gullibility of Americans who are:
"fooled by unrealistic claims of
what vitamins can do to 'increase energy,' 'stimulate brain
function,' 'improve sex drive,' 'reverse cancer' and 'remove
plaque' from your arteries."
Samuel writes that these,
"wild claims" help "explain why
Americans shell out $7.5 billion a year on vitamins, hoping to
prolong life, slow aging and protect against a bevy of
From her standpoint, it seems that
Americans are a desperate, naive bunch, grasping at any snake-oiled
promise to avoid the inevitable doom of chronic disease. Confident
that the average American will be unable to sort through these "wild
claims" about nutritional supplements, Samuel jumps to a list of ten
we don't need to bother taking.
While it's true that people suffer illness, age, and die as part of
the human condition, does this mean that no one should attempt to
prevent, delay or improve the experience? Shouldn't one be able to
educate themselves about wellness and try to live a healthier,
fuller life through better nutrition and lifestyle awareness without
Studying nutrition and wellness doesn't
make anyone more gullible. Major television networks often feature
physicians who report on food, diet, exercise, and lifestyle which
would appear to encourage people to become informed about healthy
choices. No health practitioner would suggest that eating canned or
frozen vegetables and highly processed foods will provide the most
nutrition in a diet, and people are learning that we can no longer
count on our grown and raised food to have all the nutrition it had
fifty years ago.
Soils are depleted of nutrients, and an increasing percentage of our
food sources are hybridized, genetically modified, and contaminated
with hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. Given these limitations,
how do we ensure ourselves a healthy diet?
Samuel herself acknowledges that,
"Everyone needs vitamins and
minerals, which are crucial for good health and long life" but
that "only 3 percent of us eat well enough for that."
Maybe Americans who turn to supplements
to complete their daily dietary needs, or who want to lessen their
suffering and improve their quality of life are actually
She cites Cleveland Clinic's Chief
Wellness Officer, Michael Roizen, M.D. as saying,
"No one knows for sure why a food
source may be more beneficial [than a supplement], but one
theory is that nature provides a perfect balance of compounds
that isn't fully replicable in the lab. I take a vitamin and
mineral supplement as an insurance policy against a less than
Getting our vitamins from healthful
foods would be easier if our foods were of a better quality. The
rising demand for heirloom produce, organic produce and free-range
meats absent of hormones and antibiotics supports the notion that
many Americans have made the connection between diet and illness.
Americans who choose to inform themselves about which food sources
are today's nutrient-dense options should be able to do so without
Simply eating the same foods we ate
fifty years ago under the assumption that by doing so, we will
receive adequate nutrition just isn't borne out in practice - or in
Despite the issues we face today in finding quality, nutrient-dense
foods, The Vitamin Hoax: 10 Not to Take confidently proclaims
obtaining good nutrition is so simple that taking vitamins is
overkill and can lead to toxic overload of some nutrients. Samuel's
introduction evokes both skepticism and curiosity in many
Hoping to rein-in the well-informed
skeptics, she hopes to strengthen her argument by basing her claim
on the standard Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
guidelines for daily nutrient intake.
Understanding the National Academy of Sciences' intent when the RDA
guidelines were originally determined is key to keeping one's
perspective in the face of a possible vitamin hoax. The Nutrition
Digest of Essential Nutrients is a collection of science-based
nutritional information complete with cited studies which provides
an interesting look at the history and intent of the RDA guidelines.
Compiled by researchers at Enerex Botanicals, Ltd., this
digest was published to provide fact-based information about
supplements and nutrients.
Establishing A Suggested Optimal
Nutrient Allowance (pgs. 16 - 31 of the digest) discusses the
National Academy of Sciences' reasons for establishing the RDAs and
the criticisms that arose regarding those guidelines. It also cites
university research that led to the creation of alternative
nutritional guidelines called Suggested Optimal Nutritional
Allowances or SONA.
Before we look at Samuel's list of ten
supplements not to take, we need to be able to determine if we are
getting such ample nutrition from our food that we can forego the
According to the research collected in the Nutrition Digest, the
National Academy of Sciences proposed in 1941 that a guideline of
minimum recommended daily dietary allowances be established for the
express purpose of reducing the occurrence of diseases of
These diseases of malnutrition include
scurvy (caused by deficient levels of vitamin C), pellagra
(caused by deficient levels of niacin), and beri-beri (caused
by deficient levels of vitamin B-1). The RDA guidelines fell under
sharp criticism within ten years of their publication because they
were based on brief studies of approximately nine months and
established only nutrient level minimums.
Maintaining one's health over the course of a lifetime likely
requires the intake of daily nutrients at varying levels relating to
conditions such as illness, habit, and stage of life. It is
estimated that at least one chronic disease such as cancer, heart
disease, diabetes or a degenerative disease of the bone or eye, will
afflict 80% of the American population over the age of sixty.
This wide-spread suffering of chronic
disease in the aging may be evidence that the RDAs do not provide
the levels of nutrients needed to maintain high quality health over
a lifetime. In fact, the RDA guidelines are likened by the
researchers to minimum wage rates since they barely sustain life let
alone contribute in any meaningful way to improving life quality.
The analysis provided in
Establishing A Suggested Optimal Nutrient
Allowance (SONA) highlights further flaws with the RDAs. In addition to
being established only as nutrient minimums, the RDAs fail to take
into consideration the impact of lifestyle. Several studies have
shown that behaviors such as regular consumption of alcohol,
following special diets, and habitual smoking will lower blood
levels of various nutrients.
The National Academy of Sciences
(NAS) stated in their own findings that the RDAs "vary
greatly in disease" implying that there are circumstances of living
that can and do influence and change RDA requirements.
It was not until the 1989 edition, however, more than forty-five
years after their initial publication, that the NAS finally
acknowledged smokers' need for higher levels of vitamin C to prevent
malnutrition. Studies since then have determined that smokers also
have lower blood levels of vitamins and minerals including (but not
limited to) beta carotene, zinc, vitamin B-6 and vitamin E.
These findings indicate that nutrient
deficiencies may contribute significantly to smokers' increased
health risks. Clearly there are variables the RDAs do not address
and which are not reflected in the current guidelines. The NAS has
never maintained that the RDAs are optimal nutrient levels intended
to promote high quality health over many years, yet The Vitamin Hoax
consistently refers to the RDA's numbers as though they were
standards for optimal health in all individuals regardless of
personal habits and lifestyle.
To gain a better perspective of the inadequacy of the standards
which constitute the foundation for Samuel's list, consider the work
of two doctors at the University of Alabama School of Medicine cited
in the Nutrient Digest: Emanuel Cheraskin and W.M.
Given the narrow scope of the RDA
guidelines, they attempted to ascertain the actual ideal daily
consumption levels for nutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fat
that healthy people consume daily and thereby thrive. Cheraskin and
Ringsdorf, Jr. hypothesized that people who are more "symptom and
sign-free of suffering" are healthier than people who present
clinical symptoms and show signs of disease.
Together, they designed a long-term research study investigating
daily nutrient intake-levels of healthy people, and whether
supplementation was a part of the healthiest lifestyles. This
15-year study collected comprehensive health and diet information on
13,500 men and women living in six different regions of the United
The standardized information that was
the Cornell Medical Index
Health Questionnaire of 195 questions
a complete physical
including dental and eye exams by medical professionals
heart tests including an EKG
a glucose tolerance test
a complete blood analysis
including 50 blood chemistries
a comprehensive daily
By analyzing the nutritional intake of
disease-free individuals, they hoped to provide a scientifically
qualified basis for determining optimal daily nutrient levels.
The Cheraskin and Ringsdorf, Jr. study consistently indicated that
the healthiest people were those who had taken supplements and who
had eaten a nutrient-rich diet in relation to the number of calories
they ate. By comparing the daily intake levels of vitamins in the
healthiest subjects, researchers calculated the mean or average
amount of each vitamin consumed.
Using these calculations, Alex
Schauss, Ph.D. developed the Suggested Optimal Nutrient
The SONA guidelines do not offer specific claims about nutrient
abilities. They simply reflect what nutrient levels were consumed
daily by healthy participants in the study and thus suggest that a
diet including these nutrient levels each day is part of a healthy
lifestyle. For example, the healthiest people in the study consumed
approximately 410 mg of vitamin C each day.
Analyzing the study data by age and
gender determined SONA recommendations of 400mg of vitamin C for men
and women aged 25-50, and 800-1000mg of vitamin C for men and women
aged 51 and older. By contrasting these amounts to the RDA's
recommendation of 60mg of vitamin C daily, it becomes clear that the
RDA guidelines could only have been interpreted as the bare
Samuel's alarmist warnings regarding the dangers of supplementation
are incorrectly based on the obsolete RDA guidelines. Such low
levels of nutrients could not be considered toxic. After all, the
RDA nutrients were only meant to serve as the low-watermark to avoid
In the specific case of vitamin C,
Samuel claims that there is,
"no conclusive evidence that it
prevents colds, heart disease, cataracts or cancer."
However, when Drs. Cheraskin and
Ringsdorf, Jr. analyzed the diets of the healthiest, most
disease-free people (those people with the fewest signs and symptoms
of illness such as colds, heart disease, cataracts and cancer), they
found the daily intake of vitamin C was nearly 9 times the RDA
The following is Samuel's list of ten vitamins not to take including
a side-by-side comparison of the RDA levels and SONA guidelines for
each. These are the same vitamins which Samuel asserts people
receive ample amounts of by simply following a healthy diet.
Sometimes she lists specific food amounts needed to obtain the RDA
of a particular nutrient, so the SONA amounts of the same foods have
been listed for direct comparison.
In the case of Vitamin C, Samuel states,
"A glass of OJ will give you almost
all you need [to avoid malnutrition]."
Yet, achieving the SONA levels for
vitamin C with the intention to thrive and live healthfully would
require that a person drink at least nine times that amount. How
many people actually drink nine or more glasses of OJ every day? And
how many people could pass a glucose tolerance test if they drank
that much orange juice from concentrate every day?
Contributing to the article's inconsistency, Samuel sometimes
suggests eating from a specific food group to obtain the RDA amounts
of a nutrient but leaves specific amounts of those foods up to the
She writes simply, "grab a tuna
sandwich" or eat "red meat," implying excellent food sources are at
arms length, that people eat plenty from these sources every day,
and that therefore supplementation is unnecessary. The chart below
shows a dramatic contrast between RDA and SONA measurements for
daily nutrient intake.
The USDA National Nutrient Database
for Standard Reference was used to create the final column. It
specifies how much of a particular food a person would have to eat
each day to obtain the RDA versus the SONA measurements for those
nutrients. Those who assume from reading The Vitamin Hoax that
eating a salad fulfills both a healthy body's need for folic acid
and Samuel's advice to simply "find it in dark green leafy
vegetables" will see that in fact, it is much more difficult to
achieve optimal nutrition without supplementation.
RDA versus SONA Food Amts:
Vitamin A: RDA 700-900mcg, SONA
2000mcg (1 medium carrot vs. 4 carrots)
Beta Carotene: RDA None
Established, SONA 80-100mg (8 cups cooked spinach)
Vitamin C: RDA 75-90mg Smokers
Add 35mg, SONA 800-1000mg (1-8oz cup OJ vs. 11 cups)
Vitamin E : RDA 15mg, SONA 800mg
(1oz. roasted almonds vs. 7 lbs. of almonds)
Selenium: RDA 55mcg, SONA
200-250mcg (3 oz. canned tuna vs. 1 lb of canned tuna)
Folic Acid: RDA 400mcg, SONA
2000mcg ("eat green vegs." vs. 12 cups of broccoli)
Niacin: RDA 14mg-16mg, SONA
25-30mg (6 med. baked potatoes vs. 12 baked potatoes)
Lycopene: RDA None Established,
SONA Not Found (10 cherry tomatoes = 4mg)
Iron: RDA 8-18mg, SONA 20mg
("eat red meat" vs. 2 lbs. cooked burger)
Zinc: RDA 8-11mg, SONA 17-20mg
("eat poultry" vs. 11 chicken breasts)
Reader's Digest magazine is no
trivial publication. The board of directors, so-called the
Reader's Digest Association at www.rda.com, states that Reader's
Digest is "the world's most widely read magazine." Folio
Magazine, at (www.foliomag.com), estimated that in November 2006
there was a "paid and verified circulation" of "more than 10
million" Reader's Digest magazines.
It is also a documented fact that
many people take daily supplements. Samuel's own article lists
the annual amount Americans spend on them at $7.5 billion. While
Samuel's research included exactly how much money the American
people are spending on supplements, her conclusion is poorly
founded and the argument she makes for giving up daily
supplements is surprisingly weak.
In the beginning of her article, she presents herself as
protector of the meek and naive by pointing out the frivolity of
wasting money on supplements when the RDAs are so easily met
Yet upon closer inspection, the lack
of accurate information and analysis seems to implicate Samuel
as the true peddler of snake-oiled promises by promoting
outdated, bare minimum nutrient levels from the RDA guidelines;
the same guidelines which admittedly need revisions to
accommodate variables such as illness, habit and lifestyle; the
same minimal standards which may be contributing factors in the
development of chronic illness.
Such a large number of people, both
using supplements and reading Reader's Digest magazine, begs the
Why did RD gamble with readers' loyalty by promoting a
poorly researched and negative article?
What motivation could
there be for the widespread publication of this article?
Are there conglomerate entities
(such as Big Pharma: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers
of America) which might benefit from a reduction of sales in the
dietary supplements industry? Are there connections between RD
and these entities?
Further, are there connections
between RD and the political agencies who effect legislation and
influence market regulations which, in turn, could restrict the
supplement industry's market share?
The answers to these questions require:
Knowing who comprises the
Reader's Digest Association (the board of directors) along
with each member's business affiliations
Understanding the controlling
influence of the board of directors on RD's business agenda
and on key RD employees
Understanding the influential
strength that contribution monies have on the formation of
political agendas and alliances of many political figures
Edgar-online.com provides information on
businesses which includes financial information and Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, on both a free and
By looking at some of the SEC filings
submitted over the past five years by the Reader's Digest
Association, some of the company's "Corporate Governance Guidelines"
along with specific names of several of the board members were
compiled in order to gain insight into individual interests and
possible personal agendas they bring to the board.
"Corporate Governance Guidelines"
provide insight into the depth of the board's influence at Reader's
Digest as these guidelines were created by the board members
themselves. The names of the board members along with their business
affiliations follow the guidelines. Taken directly from an SEC DEF
"The Board of Directors of Reader's Digest believes that
the responsibility of Directors is to oversee the management of
That responsibility includes:
Promoting the best interests of
Reader's Digest and its stockholders in directing Reader's
Digest's business and affairs.
Directors have open access to
Reader's Digest's management. Senior management of Reader's
Digest routinely attend appropriate portions of Board and
Committee meetings and they and other managers frequently
brief the Board and the Committees on particular topics.
Long-term strategic and business plans are reviewed annually
at one of the Board's regularly scheduled meetings.
Selecting, evaluating and
fixing the compensation of the Chief Executive Officer and
senior management of Reader's Digest and establishing
policies regarding the compensation of members of
Evaluating the performance of
the Company and the Chief Executive Officer and taking
appropriate action, including removal, when warranted."
Looking at these guidelines, it seems
Business affairs including
articles and advertisements at Reader's Digest reflect the
Board-determined company agenda
The Board ensures that the
senior management supports and reinforces the Board's
agenda. This agenda should be reflected in Senior Research
Editor, Neena Samuel's writings
The Board determines the
compensation of senior management. Members who conform and
lead by the Board-set company agenda likely get the best
The Board removes anyone whose
work does not promote and reflect the Board-set company
agenda. It stands to reason that any agency (such as Big
Pharma) wanting to influence the business agenda at Reader's
Digest, would have to gain the support of the Reader's
Digest Association and it would have access to the names and
affiliations of those board members.
Here is a representative number of
Reader's Digest Association members compiled from several SEC
filings spanning the past five years. Not all names were located.
One retirement and one replacement was
mentioned in the search.
Lynne Cheney, wife of
Vice-President, Dick Cheney. Retired from Reader's Digest
Association around 2003. Affiliated with American Express
and with her husband, Dick Cheney, who was Chief Executive
Officer at Halliburton Energy Services (an oil-drilling
company). VP Cheney retired from HES in 2000 during the
Bush/Cheney Campaign for Presidency.
Cecil J. Silas, CEO of Phillips
Petroleum (1985-1994). Member of the Board of Halliburton
(1993 - present). Member of the Reader's Digest Association
(1992-present). Halliburtonwatch.org states that Cecil Silas
was the third-largest campaign contributor to Republican
campaigns, and that he donated $30,000 to the Republican
National Committee in 2004.
Herman Cain, Director of Aquila,
Inc. (an electric and natural gas company).
William E Mayer, Director of
First Health Group Corporation (a national managed health
Lawrence R. Ricciardi, Director
of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (part of the Shell Group of
Companies). Halliburtonwatch.org states that Halliburton and
Royal Dutch formed a joint-venture agreement in 2000 to
develop and market their oil-and-gas industry-related
technologies in the global market.
Eric W. Shrier, President of
Time, Inc publication called Health. BA in Human Biology
from Brown University. CEO of Reader's Digest Association
John T. Reid, Chief Technology
Officer at Colgate-Palmolive, Inc.
Ed Zschau, Former Republican
Congressman (1983 - 1987).
The Reader's Digest Association is
strongly Republican and several members have close ties to acting
members in the top levels of the United States Government.
The question, now, is to what extent is
the drug industry able to effect Republican politics?
Earl Lui of
ConsumersUnion.org posted a
Reuters-based article on November 1, 2006 just before the
congressional elections, entitled, Drug Companies Give Big Money
The article discusses Big Pharma's
political influence on politicians.
"Reuters reports drug companies have
spent at least $9 million to keep Republicans in control of
Congress," and that "Ahead of the voting, drug makers are giving
more campaign cash to Republicans."
Stock analysts sum up the risks the drug
industry faces if one or both Congressional Houses are in the
Democrats' control. Prudential Equity Group analyst, Kim Monk, is
quoted as saying,
"The drug industry faces the biggest
risk in a change of hands in Congress," and other analysts
agreed saying, "Keeping the Senate in Republican control would
help protect drug makers by making it tougher for legislation to
MSNBC.msn.com posted an Associated
Press report dated November 13, 2007 declaring that "Lobbying Stalls
Generic Drug Legislation." It reports that,
"Legislation aimed at speeding the
availability of cheaper generic drugs has stalled in Congress"
due to major lobbying by the drug industry.
This stalled legislation would ban
'reverse payment' settlements where name-brand drug manufacturers
pay generic drug manufacturers to postpone their offering of
discounted generic drugs to consumers, thereby allowing Big Pharma
to continue receiving its large revenues.
Senator Herb Kohl (D-WIS) who supports the legislation and is
frustrated by Republicans who put delays on actually taking a vote
"Lobbyists have a lot of influence
in Washington. If we can just get this to a vote, it will be
pretty difficult for people to vote against it. A vote against
it would be a vote against consumers."
While Big Pharma has won cooperation in
furthering their agendas through relationships it has formed with
Republican politicians, the drug industry is very fickle; courting
both parties and later focusing financial efforts on whichever party
comes into power.
Following the November 7, 2006 congressional elections,
ConsumersUnion.org posted another article by Earl Lui entitled,
Election Results Scare Big Pharma. It discusses news reports from
both the New York Times and the Washington Post that a "secret
internal memo" was obtained from an insider at drug-maker
GlaxoSmithKline that lays out company fears and response plans to
win-over support from the new Democrat-controlled Congress.
The Post quotes the Glaxo-memo as
"We now have fewer allies in the
Senate. Thus, there is greater risk over the next two years that
bad amendments will be offered to pending legislation."
The Post explains,
"The company's primary concerns are
bills that would allow more imported drugs and would force price
competition for drugs bought under Medicare."
Continuing quotes from the company memo,
The Post states that the defeat of Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)
"creates a big hole we will need to fill."
Senator-Elect Jon Tester (D-Mont.),
"is expected to be a problem," and
the addition of "Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Oho) [to the Senate] will
strengthen his ability to challenge us."
According to The Post, the memo ends
with a brief discussion of relationships the Glaxo-company has been
able to forge with Democratic politicians such as Senator Robert
Menendez (D-N.J.) stating,
"These relationships should help us
moderate proposals offered by Senate Democrats."
Further demonstrating the drug
industry's intent to seduce whichever party is in power, the New
York Times reports ,
"Hoping to prevent Congress from
letting the government negotiate lower drug prices for millions
of older Americans on Medicare, the pharmaceutical companies
have been recruiting Democratic lobbyists, lining up allies in
the Bush Administration and Congress, and renewing ties with
organizations of patients who depend on brand-name drugs."
As Big Pharma funnels its wealth into
buying political support, manipulating the legislature to lean in
its favor, the issue of nutritional supplements has not fallen off
their radar as a source of lost revenue. Smart-publications.com
posts an article that connects this lobbying-strength directly to
the nutritional supplements industry in an article entitled, FDA
Moving to Dismantle DSHEA.
The Dietary Supplement Health and
Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 as explained in the article, makes
"responsible for establishing their
own manufacturing practice guidelines and making sure a dietary
supplement is safe before putting it on the market."
This allows the FDA to forego the
stringent and expensive testing required of pharmaceutical drugs
before new drugs are approved for release to market.
As a way to possibly put supplement makers out of business, the
pharmaceutical industry lobbies "for changes in the way dietary
supplements are regulated." Suddenly more and more writings from the
medical community appear with their focus in line with this agenda.
an editorial was published
in the Journal of American Medical Association in which,
"the authors wrote, 'If dietary
supplements have or promote such biological activity, they
should be considered to be active drugs, [and if they lack this]
"biological activity," their claims should be challenged, and
their sale and distribution as products to improve health should
be curtailed.' "
Unfortunately, requiring that
nutritional supplements be put under the same safety-testing as
pharmaceuticals would cost so much that many nutritional supplement
producers would be unable to comply and would go out of business.
Big Pharma's influence was again felt in 2003 when Senate Bill s.722
was introduced by Richard Durbin (D-IL). The Freedom of Health
Foundation at (www.thefhf.org) notes this bill stipulates that any
adverse reactions attributed to nutritional supplements be reported.
The FDA has the authority to take any
supplement off the market after receiving only one adverse report.
Equal sanctions are not placed on pharmaceuticals despite hundreds
of thousands of adverse effects being reported each year regarding
both prescription and over-the-counter medications. This focus on
supplements and the ease with which supplements could be pulled off
the market further raises suspicions that
Senate Bill s.722 is a
thinly veiled attempt at destroying the nutritional supplement
industry through legislative onus.
Many vitamins and supplements would
quickly become impossible to buy - an unfortunate turn for those
without insurance who may rely on supplements for their well-being.
As for the phantom dangers of supplements touted by the
pharmaceutical industry, many politicians feel that there's
insufficient supporting evidence and no real need for government
regulation. In fact, many legislators believe that the supplement
industry's record of safety speaks for itself, and already far
surpasses that of the pharmaceutical companies'.
A transcript from an official hearing
record of the Committee on Government Reform regarding the Dietary
Supplement Health and Education Act quotes Representative Dan Burton
"As for the safety of supplements,
an interesting comparison was published last year; 106,000
people die a year from prescription drugs; 42,000 a year from
automobile accidents. It is more likely that you will be struck
by lightening and die in this country than it is that you will
die from using a dietary supplement, with just 16 deaths
reported from that last year."
Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tx), once an
acting physician, considers himself a leader in promoting health
freedom for Americans.
On his website (www.RonPaul2008.com) he
"I oppose legislation that increases
the FDA's legal powers. The FDA has consistently failed to
protect the public from dangerous drugs, genetically modified
foods, dangerous pesticides and other chemicals in the food
supply. Meanwhile they waste public funds attacking safe,
healthy foods and dietary supplements."
Big Pharma's influence at Reader's
Digest magazine is not a far stretch of the imagination. In
journalism, there exists an "agenda-setting theory" which is
described at Wikipedia.com.
This theory states that,
"the mass-news media have a large
influence on audiences by their choice of what stories to
consider newsworthy and how much prominence and space to give
It is by this means that the mass media
transfers the "importance of items on their mass agendas to the
Big Pharma is a billion-dollar industry,
and it uses this "agenda-setting theory" to its advantage. It gives
large financial contributions to politicians who, in turn, use their
legislative votes and business clout to promote Big Pharma's agenda.
The Reader's Digest Association has close ties with top-level
politicians, and it has complete control over the subject content of
articles published in Reader's Digest magazine. This makes
transferring the "importance of items on [Big PhRMA's] agendas to
the public agendas" just a matter of procedure.
Bill Sardi, journalist and consumer
advocate, uses his research and investigative talents to speak out
on health and nutrition and maintains a website called
Regarding the drug industry's published
propaganda designed to get supplement users to stop taking vitamins,
Sardi notes that hundreds of drug patents on expensive medications
are expiring; a fact that could leave the drug industry looking for
other cash cows to exploit.
"If the public can be frightened
into thinking dietary supplements are dangerous, a bought-off
Congress, along with popular news anchors and authors [and board
members of popular magazines] could orchestrate a groundswell of
public opinion to designate dietary supplements as 'drugs.' "
It seems that our current political
leaders would gladly trade our constitutional rights for money and
power. Therefore, let us remember one of our most important
historical and political figures, whose earnest drive and political
genius helped establish this country's first freedoms.
James Madison, America's fourth
President and the man considered to be the,
"Father of the Constitution," once
said, "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who
mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the
power which knowledge gives (www.wisdomquotes.com)."
Once again Americans need to arm
themselves with knowledge and stand against an oppressive
government, this time ensuring the preservation of our health
freedoms and, hopefully, making it possible to live healthily and to