British celebrity nutritionist Patrick Holford has been asked to stop making claims that “have the potential to cause people with life-threatening illnesses to make medically unsound decisions”.

Holford, who is touring South Africa, advocates mega-doses of vitamin C as an effective antidote to bird flu, and also claims that the vitamin can prolong the lives of cancer patients and is more effective than the antiretroviral, AZT.

However, a group calling itself the “Coalition Against Fraudulent Claims about Medicines on Patrick Holford” has tackled these claims.

The group includes prominent AIDS experts Professors Hoosen Coovadia, Salim Abdool Karim and Quarraisha Abdool Karim and Dr Francois Venter, president of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society.

“Holford appears to base the above claims on in vitro (laboratory tests outside the human body) or disreputable research,” claims the group.

However, Holford denies that he has said that Vitamin C is more effective in treating AIDS than the anti-retroviral drug AZT.

“This is not true. I have never made this claim,” said Holford, adding that in ‘in vitro’ studies on human T-cells, “vitamin C suppresses the HIV virus in both chronically and latently infected cells, while AZT has no significant effect”.

Meanwhile, research released in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week found no evidence that taking beta carotine, Vitamin A or Vitamin E extends life span.

The research was complied from data from 68 studies involving more than 232 000 people.

Kerry Cullinan


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