David Gorski, a veteran commenter on the Science Based Medicine web site, has published criticism of one of the bigger purveyors of homeopathy and other crank products and treatments for illness, the World Health Organization. Faculty from the University of Maryland, ‘an institution that has featured in this blog many times before since very early on for the uncritical promotion of “integrating” quackery into science-based medicine by its Integrative Medicine program’, participated in that travesty. I recommend his article The World Health Organization promotes quackery yet again.
This long-standing problem appears to draw too little attention and criticism. Among the few others criticizing WHO for their brazen endorsement of bad healthcare practices is Jonathan Jarry, who has a Master’s degree in molecular biology, writing for McGill University’s Office for Science and Society, whose motto is “Separating Sense from Nonsense” in an article titled The World Health Organization Has a Pseudoscience Problem, and a pair of right wing media publishers, the Spectator in the U.K. and Fox News in the U.S.
Medicine is licensed, insured, and regulated while the supplements business is weakly regulated. If you opt for trying to improve your health with natural substances then you may want to consider subscribing to Consumer Labs. They report on what evidence there is regarding various plant, vitamin, and mineral based approaches for addressing various health concerns and which supplement products actually deliver what they claim to provide (for example, they have an article “Do any supplements help prevent or improve cataracts?”).
There is biology based evidence that high doses of some anti-oxidants via supplements increase the risk for some cancers by stimulating the growth of new blood vessels that feed the cancer cells. Studies show that high levels of vitamin A, C, and E as supplements increases cases of gastrointestinal cancers (stomach, colon, and/or esophageal) in some people, and beta-carotene (a vitamin A precursor) supplementation is similarly positively correlated with lung cancer. Other cancers rely on the same underlying mechanism to form blood vessels, including kidney, skin, and breast cancers.