Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Redo Recommendations Now: Vitamin D, Fake Data, and Hype

We all need Vitamin D, a hormone, but the challenge is in how to measure levels of Vitamin D, how to determine how much a person needs, and when necessary how to supplement it. Over the years it was difficult for me to reconcile how practically everyone I knew had a Vitamin D deficiency. Since we are not all part of one cohort and we are certainly a group that is diverse in many ways it seemed very odd that we all had the same deficiency.

An answer came in two recent articles. First and most concerning was the August 17, 2018 issue of Science article,"Tide of Lies— The researcher at the center of an epic scientific fraud remains an enigma to the scientists who exposed him."(DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6403.636). This analysis detailed that much of what we know about Vitamin D was based on Dr. Sato's fabricated studies. According to the article his work was "referenced more than 1,000 times, and 23 systematic reviews or meta-analyses have included one or more of the 12 trials." Second, on August 18, 2018 A Kaiser Health News investigation for The New York Times, "Vitamin D, the Sunshine Supplement, Has Shadowy Money Behind It," revealed the effect of one person on an entire field of practice.

Both are disturbing commentary on the state of our knowledge...and our sense of responsibility to one another. How fast will clinical practice change to take this fake data and hype into account? How long will it take to change the Recommendations for Vitamin D Supplementation, the Algorithms in medical decision making and AI, and all the other information that we give and have been giving. Given this evidence how do we answer the question, "Do I stop taking my Vitamin D?"