X-Message-Number: 16755
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 22:36:56 EDT
Subject: Mike Darwin and the Vitamin Controversy

In a message dated 6/29/01 2:01:07 AM Pacific Daylight Time, Fair4us writes:

>  An interesting observation, in light of the Saul & Bill Vitamin Company's
>  position, which is provided at the following:
>  http://www.lef.org/featured-articles/may2000_vitamin_c_01.html
>  Ah, but Mike doesn't work for them anymore, right?
>  Regardless, who is the poor lay person to believe ...

The above remarks were made in reference to my statements about the possible 
downsides of vitamin C supplementation, in particular as a monoagent (i.e., 
without comparable increases in other antioxidant supplements). 

The following points need to be made and made emphatically:

1) I do not know who Fair4us is, does anyone else?

2) I have never worked for the Life Extension Foundation or for Bill Faloon 
or Saul Kent. With both great pride and gratitude I have worked for a number 
of organizations which LEF has supported including the Alcor Life Extension 
Foundation, 21st Century Medicine and Critical Care Research. In some cases 
LEF was the major supporter of these organizations, but in no case was LEF 
"the boss," or, for that matter the only significant investor or contributor.

3) In the approximately 20 years I have been involved with Saul Kent and Bill 
Faloon in these business ventures (one of which, Alcor, was a nonprofit, 
501c3 organization) I can honestly say I have never, even in the most 
indirect way, been asked to take any position regarding vitamins, science, 
politics, nutritional supplements, or anything else for that matter.  I find 
this amazing, especially in light of point 4) below:

4) Over the years I have had many private and public differences with both 
Bill and Saul and to a much lesser extent with LEF. I was outspoken where I 
felt it material. In particular I strongly disagreed with an LEF article on 
Prozac and have differed from time to time with LEF over the utility of so 
called ethical pharmaceuticals and/or their potential for harm. I feel sure 
that at times these positions must have been an embarrassment for LEF, or 
would have been for lesser people than Bill and Saul. Never, during any of 
these episodes was I discouraged from airing my views. On the contrary, when 
I rather angrily phoned up Saul after the Prozac article appeared he told me 
to write a letter to the Editor of Life Extension Magazine and he would 
personally see to it that it was published. I never got around to doing that, 
but that was my laziness; nothing more or less. In all the many meetings, 
both public and private, which Saul and I have attended I have always felt 
feel to speak my mind and disagree vocally with any position Saul or LEF had 
with which I did not agree.

Anyone who knows me will know this one of my most "outstanding" character 
traits. Few, if any people, would have tolerated such a degree of insouciance 
from someone who's bread they both so richly contributed to baking and 

5) In all my many years of work in cryonics and life extension I have never 
seen anything like the financial support, the pure moral courage, and the 
amount of good science accomplished as I have seen issue from LEF and Bill 
and Saul. Their stand against the FDA and their ultimate victory was 
Herculean; and still leaves me in awe at both their tenacity and their 
courage. In a world almost bereft of people of principles and means (and with 
so much to lose) these two men stand as shining heroes. Are they perfect? No. 
But perfection is not the stuff heroes are made of: guts, brains and 
integrity of purpose are! Bill and Saul are rich in both.

6) While I have disagreed with LEF about a few issues, they have been just 
that, a few issues. I believe that LEF through both its magazine and the 
products it has popularized have done as much to extend and improve lives as 
any other organization I know of. I would also point out that the statins, 
which were the topic of my article, are a naturally occurring substance. 
Indeed, the prototypical statin was derived from Monascus Purpereus, a red 
yeast that was known to lower LDL cholesterol. Indeed, the ethical 
pharmaceutical companies got the molecule from nature, not the other way 

LEF strongly supported the successful fight against the US FDA and the 
pharmaceutical companies to ban the sale of Monascus Purpereus on the grounds 
that it infringed on their patents and was a drug under the definition of 
FDA's mandate. This was both a correct and courageous decision which I 
wholeheartedly supported then and support now.

The only reasons not to recommend red yeast are: a) the patent on Mevacor is 
about to expire (resulting in a vast reduction in price), b) insurance 
companies won't pay for yeast but will pay for Mevacor, and c) in my personal 
opinion, the purified, quantified and standardized drug is generally (but not 
always) preferable to the raw natural product. 

7) I can only conclude that whoever Fair4us is s/he is either uniformed, 
grossly irresponsible, a pernicious liar, or all of the above. 

In closing I will say that Bill Faloon and Saul Kent are the only people in 
my entire life, including my parents, who have provided me with support and 
an opportunity to realize my dreams without ever once asking anything in 
return other than that I do as good a job as I could on the research at hand. 
Said research did not, FYI, involve nutritional supplements' utility in 
improving health and longevity in healthy people. Some "nutrients" are 
valuable in treating prolonged global cerebral ischemia in animal models, but 
this is hardly the nature of the business of LEF or what most people who buy 
supplements are taking them for. Most people who buy supplements want to 
avoid 17 minutes of cardiac arrest in the first place, not survive it. And, 
to this end, supplementation with folic aid and the B vitamins in general 
appear to be powerfully protective. Both are advocated by LEF and I could not 
agree with their position more.

The world is a pretty sleazy place and I know pressure, hints, and attempts 
to influence my behavior when I see them. I have never felt in any way 
influenced or pressured by Bill and Saul. In fact, to my discredit, I have I 
have sometimes pressured them (albeit not on matters relating to nutrition or 
LEF) using the work and contributions I have made as leverage.

So, if Fair4us wants to be fair, he should point the finger at me, not at 
Bill, Saul, or LEF.

Mike Darwin

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