Vitamin industry in our universities

vitamins-cancer-q

I’m placing these emails here for public interest. I haven’t had time to sort them into sequence. I’m happy to discuss them. My point is that Professor Julia Rucklidge of University of Canterbury’s Department of Psychology has no expertise in biology, yet makes outlandish claims for multivitamins. When challenged she says the media misrepresents her. Judge for yourself. She is funded by the multivitamin industry.

21 April 2016 1.12 pm
from Julia Rucklidge
I think we need to agree to disagree. Just as you feel I am not hearing you, the feeling is mutual J Julia

——–
My response
Unbelievable! You clearly have not even had time to read my email properly! Oh well, horses and water.

Conversation opened. 10 messages. All messages read.

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Kevin

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Kevin McCready
Kia Ora Kathryn Re: http://www.psyc.canterbury.ac.nz/research/Mental_Health_a…
Apr 11 (3 days ago)
7 older messages
Julia Rucklidge

11:30 AM (44 minutes ago)

to me, Kathryn

Dear Kevin,

It appears that you don’t have a problem with my research, but with how it has been portrayed in the media.

I am not here to sway your opinion as I don’t believe you are trying to understand this area of work based on your comments. I provided you with the articles you asked for. There are many more studies out there using broad spectrum micronutrients to treat various psychological symptoms if you choose to look. You will note that when I speak to the media I don’t promote one product, I discuss the idea that some people may need more nutrients than what they can get out of their food for optimal brain functioning. My work is completed without funding from any of the companies that provide the nutrients (and I have studied a number of different products). They have no influence on our publications, positive or negative.

Rather than attack me and this work, you could support the need for more research in this area. I am sure you would agree that those desperate parents need more data points in order to make good informed decisions for their children.

Unless you are able to engage in an open-minded, thoughtful and considered discussion of this research and the significant challenges our society currently faces in being able to effectively treat people with mental illness, I will not be replying to any further emails.

———–
And BTW Julia

Something constructive for you, lest you accuse me of not being interested in mental health research (a rather galling accusation to make to a man whose younger brother has recently died after a long battle with schizophrenia and who has spend much of his professional life researching these issues).

In my suggestion that you consult with the scientific community, you would be well served by getting some good statisticians on board.

Your hypothesis is that multi micronutrients affect mood. Unfortunately your experimental designs are inadequate to test the hypothesis. You need to say which combination of nutrients and in what doses. Then to test the hypothesis you need to vary these in a controlled manner under a Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) designed work. Your big gun approach with various commercial products and their large numbers of nutrients is not going to cut the mustard as any statistician will be able to tell you.

Kind regards Julia

From: Kevin McCready [mailto:kevin1mccready@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, 13 April 2016 3:15 p.m.
Kevin McCready <kevin1mccready@gmail.com>

12:05 PM (10 minutes ago)

to Julia, Kathryn
Dear Julia

Thank you for your email.

Your own public comments exceed by far the published findings of your own research. You have not explained to me why this is so. To blame the media is disingenuous.

To accuse me of being close minded when it is you who make public statements which cannot yet be supported by science, particularly when those statements are also contradicted by the words of your own published work is actually very revealing.

It is common for adherents of any hypothesis to call for more research in the hope of finding support for their beliefs. Generally their emotional/intellectual attachment makes them unsuitable to judge when enough research is enough. I use the dyad term ’emotional/intellectual attachment’ carefully in terms of what we know about brain function as rather nicely revealed by the Capgras Delusion to which we are all, myself included, subject.

You clearly have an emotional investment (in terms of your beliefs and your reputation) and a financial investment (in terms of your salary) in this hypothesis. It is very unfortunate that your public statements are being seized on by naturopaths and other quacks who seek to gain financially. I know you have no control over that, but I have not heard you caution that the science is not yet strong enough to support the extreme claims being associated with your name (a simple internet search reveals these).

Finally, I urge you to take a look at yourself in consultation with the community of scientists (not just those academics supporting your own hypothesis) and be much more careful in expressing yourself in future.
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———-
April 21 8.31 am
Kevin, I am sorry to hear about your brother, I am assuming that perhaps your disdain for my work stems from experiences you may have had in the health sector. However, I meant a lack of interest in understanding why it is worth considering the impact that NHPs might have on the treatment of mental illness, not a lack of interest in mental illness.

Regardless, I do take science communication very seriously (hence why despite my inclination to not reply further to your rather hostile emails, I have decided to craft a response), I do stick to the data, I am always careful to tell reporters about the limitations, that is doesn’t work for everyone, I give stats of recovery etc – if they choose not to use the full interview, that is something that is very hard to control. We will have to agree to disagree on my enthusiasm for my collective work over a decade with hundreds of people and multiple designs (depending on results from RCTs only is a huge error) as well as the work of others. Nevertheless, I do take on board your comments. Thank you.

On the note of a statistician – I indeed do have a statistician – but I respectfully think that your comment stems from a single ingredient fallacy and that no one ingredient is important on its own. Others can spend their careers finding out the mechanism of action of specific nutrients, I chose to dedicate my research time to determining if claims made by companies hold up in scientific research (which afterall is a role of scientists) and then if they do, trying to figure out the mechanism of action collectively.

Indeed, such magic bullet thinking is at odds with human physiology (which requires the ingestion of many nutrients in balance) and largely explains why the single nutrient strategy has yielded only modest benefits. Supplementing with broad spectrum formulations ensures the patient’s safety as the combination prevents imbalances, such as one nutrient causing a deficiency in another (e.g., taking zinc alone may cause copper deficiency). Recommending that researchers first understand how one nutrient functions on its own, in isolation, ignores the inevitable changes and potential for harm occurring in other nutrient levels.

The concept underlying the use of micronutrients for the amelioration of mental health symptoms is that mental illness may be a manifestation of suboptimal nutrition, relative to genetically-determined needs for optimal brain metabolic activity.

Neurotransmitters go through many metabolic steps to ensure synthesis, uptake, and breakdown. Each step requires enzymes, and every enzyme is dependent upon multiple co-enzymes (cofactors). A variety of vitamins and minerals are required as cofactors in most, if not all, of those steps. Some people may inherit an in-born error of metabolism that results in less than optimal use of nutrients that are present. Flooding the system with many nutrients ensures the body receives what it requires for optimal brain functioning.

The one-disease, one-nutrient solution to mental disorders is outdated, and needs to be replaced by a model that is responsive to the broad spectrum of human nutritional needs. Perhaps the perpetuation of single-nutrient studies continues because this methodology fits comfortably within the pharmaceutical paradigm and traditional scientific methodology where drugs are typically single ingredient and independent variables are manipulated one at a time. However, shifting psychiatric research towards a consideration of multi-ingredient formulations requires rethinking the scientific paradigm that has thus far shaped this field.

Kind regards

Julia

———–
April 21 2016 1.06 pm
Thanks Julia

Thanks for your comments about my brother Gerard.

No I have not misunderstood your hypothesis and have never believed in single magic bullets. Thus most of your email is not relevant to what I said. The whole point of a multivariate analysis is to vary the ratios of nutrients and be able to study the various combinations. I thought this was clearly stated. I’d be curious to know if you showed my email to your statistician before replying and if so, did that person also misunderstand me?

I am familiar with metabolic pathways, networks, feedback loops and hysteresis. My own hypothesis is that because of the NP-Hard problem these will never be fully explicated. Nonetheless we should continue with the endeavour with the tools we have while being as aware as possible of their limitations. I’m not meaning to be rude, but your call for paradigm shift is in my view based on a misunderstanding of how science proceeds and is almost ‘undergraduate’ in its framing. Have you seen Naomi Oreskes speak to this? Even while I acknowledge the ills of much of big pharma, to characterise all pharma research with the accusation you make is insupportable.

Again I make the indisputable observation that It is your own words that hype your hypothesis beyond what the data supports, not only the actions of media reporting you. You seem unable to understand this. Perhaps your belief in your hypothesis sometimes overrides your scientific training when you speak to the media.

Even in the email you have just sent me you say  “Flooding the system with many nutrients ensures the body receives what it requires for optimal brain functioning.” This is a gross and dangerous error. For many physiological processes the same substance can be wonderful or very dangerous, depending on the dose. Particularly in your field of nutrients you ought to be acutely aware of recent research on hormesis (Vitamin E springs to mind). I’m hugely disappointed again that someone in your position can write such a statement in what is clearly a carefully considered email.

Can I urge you again to conduct your scientific life in careful consultation with experts and with an attitude of strong scepticism towards your own hypothesis? Your email to me with your “flooding the system” comment indicates it is unlikely you checked it with an expert. I’m sorry if this sounds rude – that is far from my intention.

I have lived and worked with scientists all my life and one of the most distressing episodes related to a dear friend and has occurred only recently. He has now realised that an important piece of work he had high hopes for and worked on day and night for the last twenty years is coming to nothing. It is a very difficult time for him. I am not saying your work will result in the same experience, but all good scientists need to face this possibility, joyfully if possible.

———

my email to her 13Apr2016

Julia

I’m sorry to say so, but your adherence to this stuff borders on the religious.

None of the 6 pieces you have emailed me contain substantial evidence for the public claims you make. My mind is open but you have failed to demonstrate your case.

The single randomised control study you constantly tout is the one with 80 ADHD adults and even then you could only say there was “preliminary evidence of efficacy for micronutrients in the treatment of ADHD symptoms in adults … The findings reported here need to be interpreted cautiously given the inconsistencies noted across raters; larger trials are required to determine how robust these preliminary findings are. … The field is plagued with poorly designed and controlled studies, often leading to erroneous conclusions.”
This conclusion is at huge variance with your public statements of your belief system.

How then can you stand my your public statements which inevitably lead desperate parents to shell out big dollars?

Here are some more quotes from your own material.

‘Journal of Attention Disorders-2014-Rucklidge-one year follow up RCT.pdf’
“For the small number of participants who stayed on micronutrients, the benefits conferred through the controlled trial were maintained. The results are limited by small sample, lack of blinding, expectation, and reliance on self-report of symptoms.”

Finally in ‘2015 Kaplan et al Nutritional mental health CPS.pdf’ which is a rather silly mishmash puff piece we get this breathless prose based on your belief system: “A bright new future of understanding, preventing, and treating mental disorders awaits us”

Kia ora
kevin1mccready@gmail.com
@kmccready
32 Hawera Rd
Kohimarama 1071
Auckland, New Zealand
+64 (0)9 528 1174 home
+64 (0)226 710 335 cell
https://kmccready.wordpress.com/about/

On Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 12:17 PM, Julia Rucklidge <julia.rucklidge@canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:

Attached a few studies on ADHD. These are not for circulation. Only for personal use. I am not sure what claims you are referring to. If you want to better understand why one would need nutrients above a healthy diet, please read the Kaplan article or watch my TEDx talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dqXHHCc5lA to start thinking differently about the role additional nutrients might play for some people.

Kind regards Julia

From: Kevin McCready [mailto:kevin1mccready@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 12 April 2016 5:18 p.m.
To: Julia Rucklidge
Cc: Kathryn Darling
Subject: Re: FW: ADHD Study

Thanks Julia

When I tried to download full study, it was paywalled. Could you please email me the full study or studies which supports your claims.

Kia ora
kevin1mccready@gmail.com

@kmccready

32 Hawera Rd
Kohimarama 1071
Auckland, New Zealand
+64 (0)9 528 1174 home
+64 (0)226 710 335 cell
https://kmccready.wordpress.com/about/

On Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 12:04 PM, Julia Rucklidge <julia.rucklidge@canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:

Dear Kevin,

Kathryn forward your email to me as the Director of the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group.

We share your concerns about there not being enough research on alternative therapies and therefore our lab is set up independent of the companies that sell the products in order to study the efficacy and safety of micronutrients for mental illness. If you go to our website, you will see that we have published a range of trials from open label to the gold standard double blind RCT, with more under review, and 3 further RCTs underway in our lab.

Kind regards,

Julia

Julia Rucklidge, PhD, CPsych, FNZPsS
Professor of Clinical Psychology

Director of the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group
Clinical Psychologist
Department of Psychology
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand
Phone: 64-3-364-2987-7959
Fax: 64-3-364-2181
Email: julia.rucklidge@canterbury.ac.nz

Follow me on twitter: @JuliaRucklidge

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Julia_Rucklidge/publications

web: http://www.psyc.canterbury.ac.nz/people/rucklidge.shtml

From: Kevin McCready [mailto:kevin1mccready@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, 11 April 2016 4:16 p.m.
To: Kathryn Darling
Subject: Re: ADHD Study

Opps. here’s what I posted:

As I suspected an “open label trial”. If you follow the links on this bullshit naturopath boost, it’s very sad how desperate, uneducated parents are conned into forking over good money for bottled vitamins you get from a healthy diet. Pyramid selling schemes and all. And it’s pathetic that certain universities are willing to prostitute themselves to the altmed industry. http://blog.healthy.co.nz/22267-2/ Here’s the registration info. Judge for yourself. Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ID number ACTRN12613000896774 And the final sad is a media untrained to ask basic questions as to why an open label trial with 14 kids is worthy of report.

Kia ora
kevin1mccready@gmail.com

@kmccready

32 Hawera Rd
Kohimarama 1071
Auckland, New Zealand
+64 (0)9 528 1174 home
+64 (0)226 710 335 cell
https://kmccready.wordpress.com/about/

On Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 4:14 PM, Kevin McCready <kevin1mccready@gmail.com> wrote:

Thanks Kathryn

I’ve had a look and in the interests of full disclosure I should let you and the team know what I think. Here’s what I posted on Facebook to someone who was promoting it:

Kia ora
kevin1mccready@gmail.com

@kmccready

32 Hawera Rd
Kohimarama 1071
Auckland, New Zealand
+64 (0)9 528 1174 home
+64 (0)226 710 335 cell
https://kmccready.wordpress.com/about/

On Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 3:43 PM, Kathryn Darling <kathryn.darling@pg.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:

Hi Kevin,

If you go to http://www.bit.ly/childadhd you will find a link to register interest, and another link to an information sheet.

The trial is registered on the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ID number ACTRN12613000896774.

If you have any specific questions, I’m happy to answer them or forward you to someone who can.

Kind regards,

Kathryn Darling

Research Coordinator

Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group
Psychology Department

University of Canterbury

Private Bag 4800

Christchurch 8140

Phone: (03) 364 2987 ext. 7705

From: Kevin McCready [mailto:kevin1mccready@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, 11 April 2016 3:23 p.m.
To: Kathryn Darling
Subject: ADHD Study

Kia Ora Kathryn

Re:
http://www.psyc.canterbury.ac.nz/research/Mental_Health_and_Nutrition/Child%20ADHD%20Study.shtml

Hoping you might have a link to where the study is described and registered?

Kia ora
kevin1mccready@gmail.com

@kmccready

32 Hawera Rd
Kohimarama 1071
Auckland, New Zealand
+64 (0)9 528 1174 home
+64 (0)226 710 335 cell
https://kmccready.wordpress.com/about/

my email 14Apr2016
Dear Julia

Thank you for your email.

Your own public comments exceed by far the published findings of your own research. You have not explained to me why this is so. To blame the media is disingenuous.

To accuse me of being close minded when it is you who make public statements which cannot yet be supported by science, particularly when those statements are also contradicted by the words of your own published work is actually very revealing.

It is common for adherents of any hypothesis to call for more research in the hope of finding support for their beliefs. Generally their emotional/intellectual attachment makes them unsuitable to judge when enough research is enough. I use the dyad term ’emotional/intellectual attachment’ carefully in terms of what we know about brain function as rather nicely revealed by the Capgras Delusion [link to my blog] to which we are all, myself included, subject.

You clearly have an emotional investment (in terms of your beliefs and your reputation) and a financial investment (in terms of your salary) in this hypothesis. It is very unfortunate that your public statements are being seized on by naturopaths and other quacks who seek to gain financially. I know you have no control over that, but I have not heard you caution that the science is not yet strong enough to support the extreme claims being associated with your name (a simple internet search reveals these).

Finally, I urge you to take a look at yourself in consultation with the community of scientists [link to Orsekes youtube vid] (not just those academics supporting your own hypothesis) and be much more careful in expressing yourself in future.

———-

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