Bayer profits from men's fundamental fear -- their prostate
byJun 18th 2009 4:00PM
Selenium for prostate health? We've heard that claim for Bayer Healthcare's One A Day Men's 50+ Advantage, which also cites ingredients lycopene, vitamin E and zinc as contributors to a happy prostate.
New research, however, has shown that supplementing the intake of selenium and Vitamin E will not prevent or reduce the chances of prostate cancer.
Ironically, the study results did find a higher than average number of cancer victims among the subjects taking Vitamin E, although no direct link was claimed. The study also found that selenium and Vitamin E had no impact on the incidence of lung or colorectal cancers. The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, was carried out by the Southwest Oncology Group. Over eight years, 35,000 men participated in the study.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has threatened to sue Bayer, charging that, "Bayer is exploiting men's fear of prostate cancer just to sell more pills."
I can't quibble with that conclusion, although I suspect the Bayer people would point out there is more to prostate health than the avoidance of cancer.
I don't see this as a health scandal of epic proportions. Looking at the shelves in my local Walgreens, I see product after product making claims based on the flimsiest of scientific evidence. One shelf offers to help me shed pounds, another to boost my metabolism.Some promise mental alertness, others sexual potency.
I wonder how any American consumer could live in the culture for long without understanding that marketers lie. Sometimes they lie by implication, by comparison, by exaggeration, by intimation, by affiliation, and, yes, by bad science.
Selenium first came to the attention of the medical industry as a toxin sickening industrial workers. Selenosis symptoms include digestive system distress, fatigue, irritability, hair loss, and neurological damage.
Selenium for prostate health? For all the good its doing in preventing prostate cancer in men, they might as well be sticking it...