Research published earlier this month in The Lancet and reported on this site continues to promote anger among vitamin supporters.
The research claimed that taking vitamins was a waste of time when it came to combating heart disease or cancer, adding that cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins were much more effective, but critics have been quick to point out the shortcomings of the study, as we reported earlier this week.
Now the Matthias Rath organisation in California has added its voice to the debate, and not surprisingly, given Dr Rath's reputation as a cardiovascular researcher, it has come out strongly in favour of vitamins, claiming that it has conclusive scientific evidence to show the benefits of vitamins.
"There were flaws in the study design, which compromised its integrity," said Dr. Rath. "Thorough scrutiny of the study reveals that there are many inaccuracies and problems that call into question the validity of the conclusions. These problems include, among others, trouble with the placebo groups and vitamin C doses selected for the study."
While some critics of the report - such as John Cordaro of the Council for Responsible Nutrition - prefer not to see conspiracy in the results of the study, Dr Rath and others are not so circumspect.
He said it was no coincidence that the study also endorsed statin drugs as an alternative to vitamins because the study was funded in part by the pharmaceutical giant Merck, manufacturer of the statin drug Zocor, which was used in the Heart Protection Study.
"Advocating the widespread use of statin drugs, even for people with normal or low cholesterol levels, is medically irresponsible given their side effects," he claimed, pointing out that in August 2001, Bayer was forced to recall the statin drug Baycol following the deaths of 31 people and 480 reports of rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure.
Dr Rath is credited with proving the link between vitamin deficiency and cardiovascular disease, and has created a programme of vitamin supplementation which has been shown to reverse the effects of atherosclerosis (thickening and hardening of the artery walls).
"We have clinical evidence to support our position that vitamins are a good thing," said Dr Rath. "The authors of the Heart Protection Study obviously had an agenda to make sure that doctors would encourage their patients to abandon their vitamins in favour of statin drugs. Given its faulty design, the results of the Heart Protection Study cannot be taken at face value. The findings contradict the basic scientific understanding of how vitamins work in the body. However, thousands of research studies exist that prove the health benefits of vitamins and other essential nutrients in preventing disease."