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Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw

you have tohave a selenium-containing enzyme called glutathione peroxidase? Well, in Finland the levels of selenium are so low in the soil and food there that the health authorities are now requiring fortification of all fertilizer with selenium. And it’s going to take many years to get people’s selenium levels up to a decent amountthat way. And if you don’t have enough glutathione peroxidase, simply adding another anti-oxidant may cause more mischief than benefit. That’s why wesuggest people take a hundred or two hundred micrograms a day of a selenium supplement to make sure they have an adequate amount. In some of theother studies, for example the CARET study, they gave very large amounts of vitamin A along with the beta carotene…

Sandy: They gave the study subjects beta carotene plus seven and half times the RDA of vitamin A, and that’s enough to cause hyper-vitaminosis A symptoms in some people.

David: Because vitamin A is stored in the body, and it’s not water-soluble.

Durk: Right, and again, I think one of the big things to stress is that when a person’s been subjecting themselves to a lot of genetic damage for thirty years, there’s no evidence that beta carotene, or any other substance, is going to be able to correct that.

Sandy: The beta carotene was being used as a treatment in that study, rather than as a preventative, which is what the studies on anti-oxidant vitamins and beta carotene have shown– an ability to protect cells against certain types of damage before the damage takes place, not necessarily to cause the damage to go away once it’s happened.

Durk: Now there are other types of damage that are more readily reversible, but once you’ve accumulated genetic errors in your cells, you’ve got a problem. They’re not going to go away. On the other hand, something like atherosclerotic plaques can regress on a diet that’s lower in fats, particularly the saturated fats, and if one takes large amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins– particularly C and E– they can substantially reduce their risk of subsequently dying of cardiovascular disease.

David: What do you think are some of the strengths and weaknesses of modern Western medicine and medical research?

Durk: I think that the biggest problem that we have with modern medicine is a regulatory and institutional problem due to the FDA. America has the finest illness-treatment system in the world. If you’re sick, and you have any brains at all, and you can get to America, by God, you’re going to come to America toget yourself fixed. The problem is that the FDA treats the prevention of disease by nutritional means exactly the same way it treats the cure of disease with synthetic drugs that have never naturally existed in a living tissue.

Sandy: You have to spend as much money proving that vitamin E is safe and efficacious, as you do if you’ve got some cytotoxic drug that’s going to be used for chemotherapy.

Durk: No one is going to spend 200 or 250 million dollars, and wait eight to twelve years to be able to make a claim about vitamin E reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. There’s no patents on vitamin E and it’s been used since the 1940’s for that purpose. The same thing applies to low-dose aspirin, another thing which is very useful for reducing your risk of a heart attack.

Because of this we have an excellent illness-care system, but we don’t have a preventive health-care system. They’re two entirely different things. A health care system is one that cares for your health, and keeps you healthy. We have a great illness- care system, albeit very expensive because of other regulatoryproblems, but we have essentially no health-care system, because the FDA treats nutrient supplements that are very useful in health care as if they were drugs.

Sandy: Then there’s the matter of off-label usage. It’s very common for a company to get a drug approved for whatever is going 

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