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Dangerous Medicine

March 2004

By William Faloon

Codex was about to outlaw high-potency supplements. Vitamin consumers in Europe were backed into a corner. Only one hope remained.

The Life Extension Foundation joined forces with the Nutrition Institute of America to conduct the enormous task of reviewing every single study on 40 different dietary supplements. An overview on each supplement was written, followed by the voluminous abstracts that supported the claims made in the overview. More than 7,000 scientific abstracts that described both preventive and therapeutic potencies were submitted to the Codex commission along with the overviews.

The good news is that the Codex committee responsible for developing international guidelines for vitamin-mineral potency reached a consensus that maximum levels for supplements should be based on scientific risk assessment and not on the politically inspired RDA.3

The debate over using science as opposed to the RDAs has been raging at Codex since the mid-1990s. While this is only partial progress, it could help when the full Codex Commission meets in Geneva in June 2004.

How Low Codex Wanted to Go

Codex sought to restrict the maximum potencies to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of each vitamin-mineral. These RDAs are determined by governmental committees and represent the bare minimum an individual needs to sustain life.

RDAs are calibrated in terms of deficiency syndromes, rather than optimal intakes for disease prevention. The RDAs represent a bare minimum floor and are by no means an upper-limit ceiling.

Several years ago, the US government changed the definition to Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI), which is the amount it believes to be essential in human nutrition. When making decisions concerning the RDAs or RDIs, governments give little consideration to what potency is needed to achieve optimal health. If Codex had ruled that the safe upper dose for dietary supplements would be based on the RDAs as opposed to a scientific risk assessment, supplements

Vitamin C 60 mg
Vitamin E 30 IU
Vitamin K 80 mcg
Thiamin 1.5 mg
Riboflavin 1.7 mg
Vitamin B6 2 mg
Vitamin B12 6 mcg
Pantothenic acid 10 mg
Selenium 70 mc

Codex Still a Major Threat
Health freedom activists who have been battling Codex warn that vitamin consumers should not become complacent. They point out that while matters would be worse if the Codex committee had recommended RDA levels only, the so-called “scientific” standards used by European food committees have been woefully inadequate.

Health freedom fighters cite one example in which a nutrition committee set the maximum safe upper limit for niacin at only 10 mg, based on its interpretation of the scientific literature. It is clear that the war to defeat Codex has not been won, and consumers should continue to aggressively protest attempts by Codex to limit vitamin potencies.

Death by Medicine
Something is wrong when regulatory agencies pretend that vitamins are dangerous, yet ignore published statistics showing that government-sanctioned medicine is the real hazard.

Until now, Life Extension could cite only isolated statistics to make its case about the dangers of conventional medicine. No one had ever analyzed and combined ALL of the published literature dealing with injuries and deaths caused by government-protected medicine. That has now changed.

A group of researchers meticulously reviewed the statistical evidence and their findings are absolutely shocking.4 These researchers have authored a paper titled “Death by Medicine” that presents compelling evidence that today’s system frequently causes more harm than good.

This fully referenced report shows the number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs to be 2.2 million per year. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million.

The most stunning statistic, however, is that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year. It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States. (By contrast, the number of deaths attributable to heart disease in 2001 was 699,697, while the number of deaths attributable to cancer was 553,251.5)

We had intended to publish the entire text of “Death By Medicine” in this month’s issue. The article uncovered so many problems with conventional medicine, however, that it became too long to fit within these pages. We have instead put it on our website.

We placed this article on our website to memorialize the failure of the American medical system. By exposing these gruesome statistics in painstaking detail, we provide a basis for competent and compassionate medical professionals to recognize the inadequacies of today’s structure and attempt to institute meaningful reforms.

Government-Protected Medicine Is Dangerous Medicine
The word regulate can be defined as “to control or direct according to rule, principle, or law.”6

In the US, all aspects of medical care are heavily “regulated” by the government. The end result is that health care is expensive, complicated, dangerous, and often ineffective.

The only way out of this bureaucratic abyss is serious free-market reform. This will not happen as long as the public thinks it needs government “protection.” We applaud the producers of Frontline for exposing the fact that the FDA does not protect Americans against unsafe drugs. Soon after the Frontline program aired, the most popular news program in the US contacted Life Extension seeking information about problems with prescription drugs. It appears that the mainstream media may finally be targeting the FDA.

For longer life,

William Faloon.


1. Dangerous prescription [transcript]. “Frontline.” PBS television. November 17, 2003.

2. Glaxo chief: our drugs do not work on most patients. The Independent. December 8, 2003.

3. Reynolds R. RDAs and safe upper levels are more political than scientific: an interview with Professor Robert Reynolds of the University of Illinois at Chicago [ website]. February 14, 2001. Available at: http://www.supple Accessed December 22, 2003.

4. Null G, Dean C, Feldman M, Rasio D, Smith D. Death by medicine. Paper released by: The Nutrition Institute of America; October 2003; New York, NY.

5. U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics Report, vol. 52, no. 9, November 7, 2003. Available at: nvsr52_09p9.pdf. Accessed December 22, 2003.

6. Available at: Accessed December 31, 2003.