Flawed Supplement Study on Women

Results of a Flawed Study Used to Discredit Supplement Use

The Iowa Women’s Health Study recently published faulty results which makes supplement usage appear to be risky at best and at worst, potentially fatal.  Life Extension had previously published statements regarding certain companies’ production of vitamin/mineral supplements containing too much iron and they found that ingesting large amounts of iron can generate free radicals which can increase the risk of diseases including cancer and heart disease.  However the Iowa Women’s Health Study erroneously determined that iron itself causes increased mortality and consequently there is an attack on multi-nutrient supplements. 

Life Extension still contends that certain commercial multivitamin preparations may be doing more harm than good, however their supplements contain appropriate levels of vitamins and minerals with additions of Omega-3 which have been linked to a reduction in mortality.

Flaws in the Study:

  • Women who only began taking supplements following the diagnosis of a serious disease and then passed away from that disease were considered “heavy supplement users who died prematurely.”
  • Recent positive findings resulting from supplementation were omitted from the study. 
  • The study used questionnaires, which are unreliable, to gather data.
  • Many of the women with serious diseases who were studied also took hormone drugs that have been linked to diseases that can cause premature illness and death. 

The increase in mortality caused by these hormone drugs skewed the results to show higher mortality rates in women who also happened to be taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement.

Suppression of Positive Results of Supplementation

The study initially determined that women who supplemented with vitamins C, D, E and calcium had significantly lower risks of premature mortality.  These positive findings were then blended with the negative results of iron and copper use to conclude that increased mortality rates are associated with multivitamin/mineral supplementation.

The unfortunate result of the flawed study will be that the public may be misled into thinking that taking simple supplements may cause premature death.  It is important that studies provide accurate in-depth analysis rather than advocate weak hypotheses which support their agendas. 

Check out the full article by Life Extension.


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About John Montague DC

John Montague DC is the owner of WebVitamins. He is active in the industry and is currently president of the NPA East.


  1. Can you take iron supplements by needle?

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