"4G Antioxidants" is one of the latest food supplements to hit the market. The 4Gs refer to substances contained in each capsule of the product: gingko biloba, grape seed, ginseng, and garlic.
To promote their product there's a health show on radio (more of an infomercial really) that's sponsored by 4G. The hosts of the show, unsurprisingly, constantly plug 4G and recommend it to their audience. The format and objectives of the show are not unlike those of a weekly program on the same radio station where the doctor who co-hosts incessantly, indefatigably, unrestrainedly, unscrupulously tells his listeners and callers week after week to take the products imported by HNC, namely, Liveraide, Fitrum, and My Marvel Taheebo Tea. Now tell me this doctor is not on HNC's payroll.
There's also a 4G tv ad you can vew online. In it you see and hear a young and popular airhead, I mean, actress bubblingly endorsing the product (in other words, reading the script and singing praises in return for an irresistibly handsome wad of lucre). The whole ad is little more than marketing drivel. It claims that 4G "helps protect our bodies from the harmful effects of oxidation and free radicals" thereby preventing disease, strengthening our body, and making us "4ever looking young and 4ever feeling healthy." In other words, we're being sold snake oil. I probably wouldn't have written this entry if not for one claim therein that I simply cannot let pass without unbridled censure.
According to the makers of 4G its product is "all natural so it's proven safe and effective." In that case, since hemlock, ricin, botulin, E. coli, guano, tapeworms, death cap mushroom, among others, are all natural, by 4G's logic they must be safe and effective. To prove this I'd like the board of directors of 4G to take the above, singly or as a cocktail, and show the world once and for all how natural = safe + effective.
I don't know whether to cry or blow my top (perhaps both). How can the mere fact that something is "all natural" lead anyone to conclude it being safe and effective? This is flagrant bad logic. This is flat-out falsehood. It's flim flam. It's a con job! The statement exists simply because the makers/sellers of 4G want to bamboozle the public into believing that their product is "proven safe and effective," giving the silliest of reasons simply to make a sentence.
I see a potential legal case to be made here too. Does the Bureau of Food and Drugs allow ads to claim their product "proven safe and effective" without robust scientific evidence? I should hope not. But then again I am hardly delusional about the ethical integrity of any government agency.
As for the whole antioxidants brouhaha, Dr. Steven Novella has just recently written a piece that addresses the issue of just what the current state of scientific evidence is on this matter. Hop on over to the highly recommended Science-Based Medicine blog and read his Antioxidant Hype and Reality. In one sentence: The jury is still out; there is still much research, studying and testing to be done. Novella's advice: "When it comes to the marketing hype for antioxidant products I can make a clear recommendation--healthy skepticism." I think we can extend that recommendation to all "food supplements" including vitamins. As the late astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan might have said, when it comes to medical hype make sure your baloney detector is switched on and kept on.