Doctors and other people sometimes say:

  • “I don’t see articles on vitamins in my professional journals.” 
  • “The research is simply not there.”
  • “Claims of nutrient efficacy and safety are not proven.”
  • “Many studies are published in little known and less respected journals.”
  • “I’ve never seen any studies supporting efficacy of nutrients.”

A  study from Wake Forest University illustrates the very obvious reasons for these uninformed opinions.

After reviewing eleven major medical journals including:

Not surprisingly, the journals with the most pharma ads published significantly fewer major articles about Dietary Supplements per issue than journals with the fewest pharma ads (P < 0.01).


Journals with the most pharma ads published no clinical trials or cohort studies about Dietary Supplements.

The percentage of major articles concluding that Dietary Supplements were unsafe was 4% in journals with fewest and 67% among those with the most pharma ads (P = 0.02).

The percentage of articles concluding that Dietary Supplements  were ineffective was 50% higher among journals with more than among those with fewer pharma ads (P = 0.4).


These data are consistent with the hypothesis that increased pharmaceutical advertising is associated with publishing fewer articles about Dietary Supplements and publishing more articles with conclusions that Dietary Supplements are unsafe.

Additional research is needed to test alternative hypotheses for these findings in a larger sample of more diverse journals.


Thanks to Robert Greene for circulating the work of:
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2008; 8: 11.
Published online 2008 April 9. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-8-11

PMCID: PMC2322947
Copyright © 2008 Kemper and Hood; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.