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Lies, Damn Lies, and Vitamin D

Posted Aug 10 2009 4:32pm

Where did we go so wrong with sunshine and vitamin D?  Were these just people in the medical professions ignoring the facts as they concentrated each day on how to heal chronic disease?  If they were truly concentrating on chronic disease, why wasn’t the pharmacology of vitamin D studied more for determining how it could possibly help to heal disease?

This is a lot of questions considering the millions of people who have died of these diseases in the twentieth century.  How can we make sense of this without considering that just maybe some misdirection was happening?  In the early forties, one researcher made the statement that the amount of skin cancer that was prevented by staying out of the sun was minor compared to all the other cancers that could be prevented by going into the sun.  What happened to him and why wasn’t this line of research pursued?

Well it seems that there was some fear going on by those who held intellectual property rights to vitamin D and how it could be used to treat disease.  Supplements that you could buy over the counter had been made with extremely small amounts of vitamin D to the point that it was not beneficial for use.  It seems that the manufacturers thought that these supplements would interfere with their sales of prescription drugs.  I suspect there was also the thought that there were other applications like cancer that could be treated and prevented with higher amounts and the dollar signs were going off in their eyes.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation held the rights to the vitamin D patents and licensed them to anyone who wanted to make vitamin D products.  It seems that they were trying to manage the license to maximize profits without concern of what they were doing to the health of the community.

The government brought suit against WARF and 17 other entities for trust violations on vitamin D in 1944.  It appears that there was ‘arbitrary and unreasonable prices’ and limited the potency of preparations so that it would not compete with their pharmaceutical products.  Now since this was when WWII was raging, I doubt that anyone in the press was paying too much attention.  What were a few kids with rickets not being able to get the vitamin D they needed as opposed to all that was going on with the war?

The settlement in the case happened when WARF turned over the patents for public use.  Here is the headline from the NY Times in 1946:

VITAMIN D PATENTS GIVEN TO THE PUBLIC; U.S. Court Decree Ends Civil Anti-Trust Suit Against Wisconsin Foundation PROHIBITIVE COST CITED Asst. Dist. Attorney Says Persons Who Most Needed Rickets Cure  Were Unable to Get It

Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES
January 15, 1946, Tuesday
Page 16

CHICAGO, Jan. 14–Patents controlling Vitamin D, the so called “Sunshine Vitamin,” which prevents and cures rickets, became public property today when Federal Judge John P. Barnes signed a consent judgment terminating a civil anti-trust suit filed last October against the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation and seventeen other defendants.

You can purchase the article from the NEW YORK TIMES archives.

It seems that this brought an end to the misadventure with vitamin D as far as rickets was concerned.  The patents had become public property so that anyone could make D3 and the market place would make the vitamin readily available to those who needed it.  But then THE LIE began to be perpetuated about how D3 and D2 were equal in the human body in the 1930’s.  This was great news for WARF because they continued to control the rights for many D analogs and perhaps D2 as well.  D2 is not a natural substance in the body as it is made from irradiating fungus.

But of great concern is that the beneficial findings on vitamin D and its effect on chronic disease were not published because WARF wanted to protect its intellectual property.  It appears that letting people die was okay as long as WARF protected its property.  You can hear a recent presentation at youtube where Hector De Luca, professor of biochemistry UWM, describes this very thing.  You can hear how wonderful the drug has been to Wisconsin in funding research but says nothing about how many people died because they did not publish the beneficial findings.  Vitamin D, the New Old Wonder Drug:   Listen to the introduction about how many vitamin D analogs have made life wonderful for millions of people and profited WARF.  It just makes me angry as this protection of an institution for profit brought much disease that led to pain and death to others in not telling how just plain vitamin D3 would get the job done.  All very legal and deadly! It looks like the thing that they were sued for in 1944 is still going on in a different format.

If you really wanted to protect your patents on vitamin D analogs and improve your market size, how would you do it?  You certainly would not want to report how good a job just plain old vitamin D3 would do as this is the least expensive of the supplements on the market.  If people got replete with D and 75% of chronic disease disappeared what would happen to the medical industry?  After all, it has a right to protect itself and its growth.

You know what would really be great for the growth of this industry would be to figure out some way to keep people out of the sun.  If we can’t keep them out of the sun at least figure out a way to prevent the skin from making vitamin D.  Remember that cute little girl with her ‘hiney’ showing bright white as the dog pulled her paints down from the 1960’s?  And here is Plough, Inc. finding a great new market for selling a consumer product that would be really beneficial to millions to reduce burns and prevent skin cancer – sunscreen – the DAMN LIE.

It did prevent sun burns and this was great for the entertainment industry and all the ‘fun parks’ that were being developed because people could stay out in the sun longer and spend more money.  However, since sunscreen was presented in the sixties, the rate of skin cancer has gone up about two fold or more.(See Note 1.)  There is a great article in To You Health called, “ The Sunscreen Dilemma”,  by Jacob Schor, ND. For further reading you may also consider this as well hypothesis about melanoma from 1993: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8287144.  The increase of many other chronic diseases has been documented during the same period.  The vector of vitamin D3 in so many chronic diseases is amazing and I suspect the number one cause of the increase in chronic disease.  The second being exposure to so many industrial chemicals that in some cases are put into our foods and call ‘food’.

So Plough did really well in the sixties selling Coppertone and its Dr Scholl’s line of foot products.  So what if you created a market by keeping people out of the sun and increasing chronic disease – how could you profit from it?   By developing and selling drugs for treating chronic disease.  So Schering  a company that specialized in drugs to treat chronic disease merged with Plough in 1971 to form Schering-Plough, Inc.   In a recent review of SP’s annual report it was interesting to note that 20 percent of their income was from their sunscreen products and 80 percent was from statins, hypertensive, chemotherapy, and other drugs for treating chronic disease.  It was the ‘70’s when the push for really using sunscreen products truly began and it was a great marketing campaign to sell pharmaceuticals for treating chronic disease.  What—?

Now with a pending class action suit that was filed against SP and others in California in 2006 and at least one study coming back to show that sunscreen may actually make the incidence of skin cancer worse, Schering-Plough sells out to Merck.  Now I suspect depending on how the common stock was handled that the liability exposure was significantly reduced by this acquisition.

Ah, lies, damn lies, and the conforming to the institution for protection of the institution truly is evil as described by M. Scott Peck in ‘People of the Lie” when empathy is not taken into consideration.  Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council simply says that we have ignored the facts over the years.  I say that we have ignored the facts as negligent misadventure with intent to profit from death and disease.

GO INTO THE SUN AND DO NOT WEAR SUNSCREEN.  STAY ONLY LONG ENOUGH UNTIL YOU JUST START TO TURN PINK.  WEAR THE LEAST AMOUNT OF CLOTHES POSSIBLE DURING THE MIDDAY SUN. IN THE WINTER USE TANNING BEDS OR SUPPLEMENT WITH VITAMIN D3.           – Pandemic Survivor

Note 1:  Skin cancer rates from 1975 to 1995 annual percentage rate increase was 5.1 percent.  Given that the natural logarithm of 2 times 100 is about 70.  70/5.1 = 13.7 years to double.  So at 28 years we would have a factor of times 4. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/othskin.html   SEER fact sheet on skin cancer.

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