What’s the first thing you do when you start feeling sick?
If you’re like most of us,
you probably reach for something full of good old vitamin C.
Whether you’re drinking it from a carton,
popping it from a bottle or getting it straight from the source.
Vitamin C’s purported power to cure what else you
is virtually unmatched in the popular consciousness.
And a lot of that is because of a guy named Linus Pauling
and his landmark work on the effects of vitamin C.
There’s just one problem.
就是莱纳斯可能 完全 可悲的 错了
Linus was probably totally tragically wrong.
You might not have ever heard of him
but Linus Pauling was a brilliant chemist.
When he was in his 20s, he became world famous
for his success for applying quantum physics to molecular structures.
Later, his work launched an entirely new branch of science
and he helped inspire Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA.
He won Nobel prizes for both chemistry and peace
and he is the only person to ever win two unshared Nobels.
His scientific career was one of remarkable success
after remarkable success.
But if you asked Pauling, he might have
told you that his most important work came later in life
when he began studying vitamin C.
Specifically, his work centered around the role of antioxidants in your body.
Antioxidants can be found in lots of fruits and vegetables.
And in your body, they act like little janitors.
Cleaning up your system of so called free radicals.
Which are basically evil little molecules that damage your DNA and cell membranes.
Studies have shown that people who eat fruits and vegetables
high in antioxidants live longer and have lower rates of cancer and heart disease.
And so the logic follows that
if people who eat more antioxidant rich foods are healthier,
then taking antioxidant rich supplements like vitamin C
should make you even healthier.
So in his book, vitamin C in the common cold.
Pauling urged everyone to take 3000 milligrams
of vitamin C a day to maximize its effect.
That’s 50 times the recommended daily dose.
The book became an instant best seller
and vitamin C sales doubled, tripled and quadrupled.
Drug stores couldn’t even keep it in stock.
But Pauling was just warming up.
He went on to claim that vitamin C used together
with other vitamins could cure just about any human alement.
心脏病 流感 中风 狂犬病 蛇咬伤 癌症
Heart disease, the flu, strokes, rabies, snakebites, cancer,
you name it.
When aids came to the United States in the 1970s,
Pauling claimed that vitamins could treat that too.
Driven in part of his advocacy,
vitamin C became the most widely used vitamin
supplement in the United States by the 1980s.
But even as Pauling was growing increasingly enthusiastic
about the possibilities for vitamin C,
his colleagues in the scientific community were not.
Professor Pauling is a great chemist
but he’s not a physician, he’s not a nutritionist,
and I don’t think he really knows
much about what he’s talking or writing about.
Studies on vitamin C had actually been
around for decades before Pauling started his work
and they all pointed to similar conclusions.
The vitamin C had little or no impact
on the severity or duration of colds,
much less cancer.
In fact, in recent years, studies have even suggested
that people who take antioxidants rich supplements
like vitamin C might be at a higher risk of dying from cancer than those who don’t.
How could that be?
Well no one knows for sure.
But the most likely explanation is that even
though free radicals attack cells in your body,
they also protect your body by killing harmful bacteria and new cancer cells.
So taking unnaturally high doses of antioxidants
might actually be tipping the balance too far in one direction.
Leading to what scientists call, the antioxidant paradox.
This research wasn’t available to Pauling at the time.
But it may not have really mattered, despite all the criticism,
he continued to defend the health benefits of high
doses of vitamin C for the rest of his life.
In a 1990 interview he said that,
” People who take vitamin C and other supplements in the optimum amounts,
could like 25 to 35 years longer.”
more than that, he said,”they will be free of diseases.”
Then 4 years later,
he died of prostate cancer.
Pauling’s scientific legacy lives on.
He was a brilliant scientis twith staggering achievements to his name
and no one could take that from him.
But he also left a dubious legacy surrounding the powers of vitamin C
and that legacy has given rise to a billion dollar
industry that shows no signs of slowing down.
Even though it’s probably totally tragically wrong.