The People's Perspective on Medicine

928 Vitamin Backlash, New Blood Pressure Rules and Cancer Overdiagnosis

Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about:

New research suggests that multivitamins are not beneficial against heart disease or dementia. But though some doctors are saying vitamins are a waste of money, sometimes people really need to pay attention to possible vitamin deficiencies. 

The hugely popular acid-suppressing drugs such as omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or esomeprazole (Nexium) have long been know to interfere with vitamin B12 absorption. But doctors don’t often test patients taking such PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) for vitamin B12 status, perhaps because this complication is unlikely. New research from Kaiser Permanente demonstrates that it is not as uncommon as it has been thought.

Lots of people are looking to natural supplements instead of drugs for relief from joint pain or possible protection from cognitive decline. Turmeric has been one of the favorites, partly because there is some evidence that it may be helpful. But just how good is your turmeric supplement? We find out from   

There are brand new guidelines for treating blood pressure. How might they affect your treatment? We talk with Dr. Sidney Smith about the guidelines and how they are being received.

Cancer screening seems like such a good idea: isn’t an ounce of prevention supposed to be worth a pound of cure? Yet as screening technologies become more and more sensitive, they may pick up tumors that don’t require treatment. What do doctors and patients do? Listen to Dr. Ned Patz, the lead author of a new study on lung cancer screening published in JAMA Internal Medicine, explain the problem.

Call in your questions and comments at 888-472-3366 or email between 7 and 8 am EDT.

Guests: Douglas Corley, MD, PhD, MPH is in the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. He is also a gastroenterologist practicing at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. His article on PPIs and vitamin B12 deficiency was published in JAMA

 Tod Cooperman, MD, is founder and President of

 Sidney C. Smith, Jr, MD, FACC, FAHA, FESC, is Professor in the Department of Medicine (division of cardiology) at UNC Health Care and the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, NC. He is a past president of the American Heart Association (AHA) and the World Heart Federation (WHF).

 Edward F. Patz, Jr., MD, is the James and Alice Chen Professor of Radiology, Professor of Pathology and Professor in Pharmacology & Cancer Biology at Duke University School of Medicine. His article on low-dose CT screening for lung cancer and overdiagnosis was published in JAMA Internal Medicine

 The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.




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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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There are so many dosages of Tumeric offered by so many companies. And the dosages do not seem to correspond to the many varied costs. Very few had pepper added to them, but I thought that pepper helped tremendously with absorption. Why wouldn’t they put it in the formula? The prices/dosages vary so much- I can not get a grasp of which one is best. Can you help. I do not want to pay an excessive amount if one is just as good as another. Thank you

Why would a clinical trial that is designed to fail do anything as sensible as using genuine testing controls? ALL of the so-called clinical trials sponsored by the AMA, pharmaceutical manufacturers, or the FDA fall into the same category. They are contrived to validate a preconceived “fact”.

I suffer from neuropathy, was informed by neurologist it is due to B-12 deficiency, I have taken Prevacid or others for years for GERD. Now having B-12 injections and OTC B-12 and have stopped the Prevacid, etc. I was never told about the ill effects of these drugs. Don’t know if things will improve with the neuropathy problem.

Dear Terry and Joe,
I love your show!! Please keep up the great work.
I was, however, quite disappointed that your need for a ‘break’ prompted you to interrupt (mid-sentence!) the herbalist who called, as she was providing some truly excellent information. Upon returning after the break, you moved forward with no reference to this caller.
I guess that’s understandable, but I was disappointed. I would have liked to hear how she would have completed her sentence (if allowed to do so), and how she would have completed her thought process, in terms of her advice to listeners, based on her experience.
Maybe that caller will post here, with some additional information.
We always feel terrible when we have to cut off a caller. Sadly, though, our breaks are not modifiable on a live show. If we do not stop promptly, the computerized automation takes over and all our public radio listeners would hear a very disorienting transition that would not make any sense. So, rude as it sounded, we really did have to say goodbye. Perhaps she will call in another time and share more information.
So sorry that we are so constrained by the clock.

I don’t understand why Centrum Silver was used in a study of supplements. They should have used real supplements, not the mashed condensed form that fits into one pill. That’s ridiculous!

I was without health insurance for a number of years and I would have been in much poorer health without the E, A, niacin (I take it 4 times a day to control arthritis pain in my hands), C, and a number of others. I might add that my doctor is very much in favor of these supplements and checks with me at every appointment to make sure I’m still taking everything, especially my calcium and D3.

I’ve been taking a vitamin and mineral supplements for four decades and even though I can’t point to any specific advantage I might have had from this practice, I can at least say that other than having to wear glasses, I function pretty much the same as I did in my 20s.
I take pains to seek out quality supplements that I take on a regular basis in addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle. And I am fully aware that I may in fact have “expensive pee” to some extent, but I don’t really care because I’d rather have the nutrients and not need them than need the nutrients and not have them.

Does cocoa powder contain a sufficient amount of flavonoids to be effective? After reading about the health affects of chocolate I have been putting a heaping spoon full of cocoa in my coffee in the morning. It gives the coffee a great chocolate flavor and I don’t add any of the extra calories found in chocolate.

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