BY CHRISTINE SCIOLI
A fifty-eight-year-old best-selling science fiction writer has a large internet following. In his current newsletter, he included a video of himself talking about the recent death of his father from melanoma after only three months. He suggests that if Dad had taken a special formulation, a concentrated fruit based extract as he does, he’d probably still be alive. He then tells the viewer he has Parkinson’s Disease and how this formula has helped him so very much.
He closes this segment by suggesting if you contact him, he’ll send you over the info on the product and arrange a phone hook-up with the doctor who created it.
He emails back in a New York minute and includes a detailed chart and a terribly produced “testimonial” video, which includes three very ill-looking cancer “survivors” who are defeating all the odds by taking the potion, and their tumors have shrunk. In between their sad stories there are many religious pictures and biblical quotations about conquering death and such. The chart looks at aging and cancer with many, many details I don’t understand.
Questioned as to the cost and if insurance covers it he again writes back in a flash and I quote:
“It is not covered by insurance. It runs about $7,000 a month. Most human trial Hail Mary’s run ten times that figure. This one actually works.”
Now I smell a scam. If he’s been taking the potion for years why wouldn’t he give it to dear Dad when he was first diagnosed?
So, I send the information to our fantastic scientific experts who helped my company create our documentary film on healthy aging, Who Wants to Live Forever, the Wisdom of Aging for their review. Am I too skeptical, missing something that we might want to include in our upcoming sequel?
And here are their comments:
Reviewed. No, nothing worth considering. It is a hodgepodge of concepts about apoptosis and P53 and a trial of peaches and nectarines in mice. The sad story is that heavily promoted nutritional supplements (as opposed to good food) have been largely ineffective for preventing disease but have had toxicities in large well-done trials: vitamin D in promoted doses increases the risk of falls and fractures, folate – prostate cancer, and Vitamin A – lung cancer.
Ugh. If only I had $1.00 for every graph I have seen showing a compound that kills tumors or bad cells I could retire. Pretty much any chemical can be shown to shrink tumors, etc. (hair conditioner, Guinness, Chanel No. 5) but this does not mean that these will actually cure disease and help people. Elysium Basis is a good example of this. They have a good scientific rationale for their compound but have not shown that it does anything to improve health in people.
There is very interesting research on Vitamin D where there are lots of individual, sometimes small studies showing improvements for specific diseases. When you look at all the results combined there is no effect of vitamin D on any health outcome (except for neonatal health during pregnancy) and too much could be really bad. Yet if you ask most people why they are taking vitamin D they say their doctor told them to take it.
In general, there is lots of general medical “wisdom” that is not supported by data…
Now everyone has a right to make a buck and everyone has differing opinions on everything under the sun, but isn’t this author making enough as a writer without resorting to an aging/cancer/Parkinson’s and whatever else that ails you scam? At $84,000 a year, this duo could be raking in some big bucks with his literary fans.
Be cautious. Find the science behind the hype, please.