CRN Responds to USPSTF Recommendations
On February 25, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) posted its final recommendation statement on vitamin, mineral and multivitamin supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. In the statement, the USPSTF concluded there is not enough evidence to determine the effectiveness of taking vitamins and minerals to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer. “Cardiovascular disease and cancer have a significant health impact in America, and we all want to find ways to prevent these diseases,” said USPSTF Chair Virginia Moyer, MD, MPH. “However, we found that there is not enough evidence to determine whether taking single or paired nutrients or a multivitamin helps to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer.”
Additionally, there are two vitamins that the USPSTF recommends against using: beta-carotene and vitamin E. According to USPSTF, this is a D grade recommendation. “The evidence shows that there is no benefit to taking vitamin E and that beta-carotene can be harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people who are already at increased risk for the disease,” said Michael LeFevre, MD, MSPH, USPSTF co-chair. “Due to the uncertain benefit of vitamin supplements to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, health care professionals should use their best judgment and consider their patient’s health history, values and preferences when having conversations about nutritional supplements.”
In response to USPSTF’s recommendations, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) released the following statement:
“We commend the Task Force for wisely recognizing that nutrients are not drugs, acknowledging that there are significant challenges to studying vitamins using methods similar to those used for studying pharmaceutical interventions,” said Duffy MacKay, ND, CRN’s senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “Importantly, the final report calls for new and innovative research methodologies, which is in contrast to the suggestion by a medical journal that called for the end of vitamin research when the draft report was published. We strongly support both the need for more research and the need for the scientific community to come to terms with a rigorous approach to studying nutrition that may not reflect the current model of studying drugs. In the meantime, there are real-life reasons why people should take vitamins and why so many doctors recommend them.”
For more information, visit www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org or www.crnusa.org.
Cragg to Receive Botanical Research Award
The American Botanical Council (ABC) recognizes Gordon M. Cragg, PhD, of Bethesda, MD, as the recipient of the ABC Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award for 2013. Dr. Cragg is a former research director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), where he was involved in the NCI’s search for new cancer medicines from plants and other natural sources. ABC presents this award each year to a person who or an institution that has made significant contributions to ethnobotanical and/or pharmacognostic research (i.e., research on drugs of natural origin, usually from plants).
Throughout his career, Dr. Cragg has advocated for natural products research and worked to protect the source materials for drug discovery. For instance, Dr. Cragg’s commitment to responsible natural products research is evident in his work in Brazil, where he contributed to the development of natural product chemistry programs in the northeast and southeast regions of the country. Furthermore, he played a pivotal role in an initiative to protect the country’s biodiversity and sustainability efforts that led to the exploration of new potential pharmaceutical, cosmetic and agrochemical products.
Dr. Cragg was elected president of the American Society of Pharmacognosy in 1998 and subsequently became an honorary member of the society in 2003. In 2010, he was presented with the William L. Brown Award for Excellence in Genetic Resource Conservation by the Missouri Botanical Garden. During the symposium held in honor of the award, a newly discovered Madagascan plant—Ludia craggiana—was named for Dr. Cragg.
For more information, visit www.herbalgram.org.