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Sibling Rivalry or Bullying?; Can Vitamins Do More Harm Than Good?

Aired June 23, 2013 - 07:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN HOST: Hey there. And thanks for joining us.

On tap today: vitamins, it's a nearly $30 billion industry. But one well respected doctor says they are nonsense. This is going to be important to listen to. He sat down with me to explain.

Also ahead, CNN's new "Inside Man", Morgan Spurlock. He's going to stop by to talk about his time spent working in a medical marijuana dispensary.

But, first, a new study says this, this caught my eye -- parents need to watch out for bullies, not just in the classroom but in the living room. According to a study nearly a third of kids reported feeling aggression from their brother or sister in the past year and researchers say your child's siblings may be causing more damage to their mental health than the school thug.

I tell you, as a dad of three daughters, three young girls, this story really did strike a chord with me and I want to bring in my friend and psychologist Wendy Walsh to talk about it.

Wendy, I know it struck a chord with you as well. I mean, a third of these siblings getting bullied at home. And what I found interesting the second part the mental impact from that sort of bullying in the house could have a much more long-term impact as compared to in the classroom. What did you think of this?

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: Exactly. What I like to say is we save the most sadistic parts of our personality, Dr. Gupta, for those we love the most, right?

GUPTA: Sad but true.

WALSH: So, that's what happens with these siblings. Yes, the closer you are, the more intimate you are, sometimes the worse punishment you can put on somebody and we are talking about young developing minds. We're not about adults who have the ability to have some ruptures followed by some healthy repair.

So I like to use the model of the family as the one of the hospital. Think of it this way, the parents are really like the doctors doing rounds. But the siblings are like the nurses. They are in there chronically giving care to their other siblings.

GUPTA: Right. That's a good analogy, you know? You have kids. I have kids. And I was a brother, an older brother, and I admit that I used to tease my little brother when we were growing up.

How do parents know when this is just normal sibling behavior and interaction versus bullying, a very specific term?

WALSH: Well, one of the big indicators is if it is chronic. If there's a constant, dominant sibling. Sometimes it's the big strapping baby and quite often, it's the elder who has an intellectual advantage.

So, if it seems to be a chronic kind of dominance by one, then you're going to want to intervene. And, of course, parents unknowingly sometimes heighten the conflicts between kids by labeling kids with certain specialties, oh, he's my athlete, she's my intellectual one, et cetera, and that sets up a kind of conflict within the kids.

GUPTA: That's fascinating. And we're not only talking about physical bullying but also mental anguish sort of bullying as well, is that right?

WALSH: It's the mental stuff that sometimes can be longer term and can affect personality development. Remember, these are developing years and, you know, all psychology is biology meeting the environment and our biggest environment are our relationships, so our relationships with our siblings are really paramount when we're developing.

GUPTA: You know, Wendy, I have three daughters and immediately my mind goes to how do you intervene appropriately. And let me just tag on to that without showing favoritism. So, you know, one kid thinks, you know, dad's now favoring my sister instead of me.

WALSH: Yes, because as you know, because you're a parent, that kids will do anything to get our attention, sometimes even to get negative attention. It doesn't matter what the quality of the attention is.

So, there might be one that's acting up more often just to get the attention of, you know, punishment if it will. So, it's really about sort of trying to tease it out and figure out what's going on and paying more attention to our kids.

But more than anything, you know, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. It's about us as adults, learning how to model, healthy conflict, and more importantly, healthy repair. If, you know, if parents only fight behind closed doors and have makeup sex, that does not help children. They haven't learned anything there.

So, having, you know, healthy arguments when it happens because, you know, what are relationships and families but a big compromise for the good of the masses, the group there, will be better.

So, I think we need to learn to have better conflict resolution skills as adults. That's the most important thing.

GUPTA: Wendy Walsh, always love having you on. Thanks for joining us.

WALSH: Thank you.

GUPTA: From one of my favorite guests to another one, Max Page. He came bursting into our living rooms in the 2011 super bowl ad for the Volkswagen Passat. And what we didn't know, a lot of people didn't know at that time, Max suffered congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. It required eight operations for that particular condition.

And I've gotten to know Max and his family and his brother Els and his father Buck and his mother Jennifer over the past few years. And I've always known him as he's become an advocate to get other kids his age to access to top notch health care.

Now, Max's travel to Capitol Hill this week, again, to speak with members of Congress such as Senator Baucus and Congresswoman Pelosi, all of it is part of the Children's Hospital Association's Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day.

And Max joins me now, along with his mother Jennifer from Capitol Hill.

Good to see you both. How are you?

JENNIFER PAGE, MAX'S MOTHER: Hi. We're great. Thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Max, how are you?

MAX PAGE, SUFFERS FROM CONGENITAL HEART DEFECT: I'm feeling great. I'm feeling better than I've ever felt before. So if you thought I had energy last time you saw me, look at me now.


GUPTA: I was just going to say, you not only seem like you have more energy, you suddenly seem like a mature young man there. Young -- I mean, you just have that sort of voice of confidence. It's good to hear your voice, Max, and good to see you as well, Jennifer.


GUPTA: You know, look, we've talked about it a little over the years -- Jennifer, you came to Capitol Hill over two years ago with the Children Hospital Association. I wonder how it's going. Have you seen any changes specifically with this issue of trying to provide that equal care across the board for kids?

JENNIFER PAGE: You know, everywhere we go, we were on both sides of the aisle on both the House and the Senate all this week and I will say everybody when it comes to the kids has said, you know, none of us want to cut it, we want to give you what you need. And we really don't think the ask is that much. I mean, it isn't that large when you consider everything all considered.

And our biggest message we just need the government to continue to do their part and then we as patient families and hospitals and fund- raising in our communities, we certainly have a role to play as well, but we just need the government to decide that they can be consistent in what they give and that will make all the difference for us.

GUPTA: Yes, again, this is something we talked about on the show quite a bit and obviously a lot of people are going to hear that, it's going to make sense to them. I'm curious, Max, when you -- when you meet a Senator Baucus or Congresswoman Pelosi, what do you say to them?

MAX PAGE: Well, what I say is that -- I say please don't cut it, because that's -- if I don't have this, I'm not going to have a good chance to survive. So, I just need children health care and then that will all be good. If you -- f you guys can do your part, we can do ours. So --

GUPTA: You're all grown up. I'm not going to make you do the Darth Vader thing now, because you're getting too old for that, Max.

JENNIFER PAGE: A little too old.

GUPTA: So good to see you both. We'll visit in person soon. Thanks for joining us.

JENNIFER PAGE: Thanks for your help. Thanks for the coverage. We appreciate it.


GUPTA: Bye, Max.

And coming up, do you believe in magic? The most aggressive assault yet on vitamins, herbs and alternative medicine.

Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get over here, ginger bread.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? That St. John's Wort that you gave her is reacting to her antidepressants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you talking about? It's herbal, it's from the earth, sauteed (ph) mushrooms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, hat's a legal drug.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feel this. Feel this.


(END VIDEO CLIP) GUPTA: That's a clip there you're watching from last weekend's "Veep." It's a very funny show on our sister network HBO, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

You heard her staff talk about St. John's Wort, it's one of the most well known alternative medicines out there. But are there limitations or perhaps even dangers in taking supplements?

Dr. Paul Offit says yes. He's the author of the new book. It's called, "Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine."


GUPTA: You're not saying these things don't work, you're saying they could be harmful.

DR. PAUL OFFIT, AUTHOR, "DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?": Right. We all need vitamins. Vitamins are necessary to convert food to energy but it's possible to take too much in the way of vitamins. We all need the so-called recommended daily allowance which you get from a routine diet. Some people feel just to be safe, they'll take a multivitamin which you don't need but won't hurt you.

But when you take a large quantity of vitamins, five-fold, ten-fold, sometimes 20-fold greater than recommended daily allowance, you actually shift the balance of this sort of antioxidant, oxidant activity in the body so that you can actually do harm.

I mean, you know, if you think about it -- if you just take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, which people do thinking about it, I mean, you have to eat 14 oranges to get that. It's an unnatural thing to do. I mean, our stomach is only so big for a reason. Vitamin live under this sort of notion that you can't possibly hurt yourself but you can by challenging Mother Nature and taking these vitamins and, you know, concentrating them to these exceptionally large quantities that you would never normally eat. You got to be careful.

GUPTA: How did we get here? How did this happen that we can have these things out there that have become a nearly $30 billion industry just about everybody thinks this is what I need to do to stay healthy and yet it potentially could cause these problems?

OFFIT: First of all, Linus Pauling supported this way back when. He was the man who won two Noble Prizes, and the weight of two noble prizes behind you.

Two, there was a cover on "TIME" magazine that said vitamins could be the answer to aging, to cancer, to heart disease. Now we know the opposite is true and when the FDA tried to regulate this because they were worried that there was no safety record on these large doses of vitamins, they were defeated by a very powerful politically influential industry and ultimately consumers now are in a position where don't know something that they should know.

You know, I think if vitamins were a regulated industry, you could argue that megavitamins would have a black box warning on them, given all these studies. There are 20 studies that show that too much vitamins can actually shorten your life.

GUPTA: Why are people going to hear this from you for the first time?

OFFIT: I think, you know, if we read the medical literature, you wouldn't be hearing it from me for the first time. And, in fact, when there two studies were a month apart I think and "The Wall Street Journal" had a headline that said is this the end of popping vitamins?

And in that article, there was a quote from the president of GNC Corporation where he said we just let these studies pass. This doesn't affect our business because he knows he's got marketing behind him and he's able to market things as being safe at some level because the FDA really isn't responsible for looking over his shoulder.

GUPTA: So, when we talk about the vitamins, you say that they are not regulated, you could get a different formulation or batch or concentration in each dose. They probably don't provide benefit, they might cause harm.

OFFIT: Exactly.

GUPTA: You don't take them?


GUPTA: This is indicting stuff, again, we're talking about a 30 billion industry. And by the way, people thinking they're doing the right things for their bodies. They're trying to take care of themselves.

OFFIT: It amazes me, actually, that we don't know this. If we were a regulated industry, we would know it but we don't and it's sad.

So, for example, when Vioxx was thought to increase one's risk of heart disease by twofold if you took a fairly high amount of Vioxx for 18 months, we knew about it in a second. I mean, Vioxx became synonymous with the word I think for some people, because the FDA regulated it. They put out a media release, and it became very clear it was a problem.

And ultimately the company that made it took it off the market.

Vitamins have -- if you look at the data on megavitamins, large doses of vitamins, I think it's worse than Vioxx and yet, we don't know about it because the industry knows it can market that away, unless people are reading the journals, they're not going to know about it.

GUPTA: Vitamins can be worse than Vioxx.

OFFIT: Yes, that's right.

GUPTA: I wish you the best. Thanks a lot, Paul Offit.

OFFIT: Thanks, Sanjay. Thank you. GUPTA: Appreciate it. Thank you.


GUPTA: Well, as you might imagine, not everyone agrees with this Dr. Offit's position. One of the groups representing the supplement industry sent a statement that read in part, quote, "It would be a shame if consumers reading this book mistake the opinion of one doctor for the opinion of the medical community as a whole."

There are a lot of doctors out there who agree with him.

Changing gears now, there are more than 3 million letters in the human genome. You can think of it as sort of your own DNA instruction book. But what would you do with all that information?

Well, Dr. Francis Collins has made that his life's work.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, NIH: My lab is looking for the cystic fibrosis gene back in the 1980s, the only way that you could move along a chromosome trying to find the right gene was called walking. And we figured it would take about 20 years to get to where we wanted to be.

I'm Francis Collins. I'm a physician, I'm a scientist and had the privilege of leading the human genome project and now I'm the director of the National Institutes of Health.

So we invented a method called jumping where you could leap over stretches of DNA, land in a new place and then ask that did I go too far, do I need to go again? It sped things up by about a factor of ten.

There was a time where we had to use this kind of gadget to do DNA sequencing. And it took a long time and you could only run a small number of samples. But now, look at this, this is a DNA sequencing machine the size of a postage stamp that can sequence a genome in, you know, maybe three days.

Today, with the click of your mouse, you can call up that complete 6 billion letter long DNA instruction book and you can compare what that looks like in thousands of different people to see where the differences are that might be associated with disease.

We have the chance to see what causes cancer. What can we do about it? What about diabetes. What about heart disease. But wait another ten years or so and almost everything we do in medicine is going to be different because of this precise information we can get about the individual.


GUPTA: And here's another little tidbit: Dr. Francis Collins was actually my genetics professor back in medical school.

Up next, I'm talking with Morgan Spurlock about marijuana.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: CNN has a big new show that's premiering this weekend. It's called "Inside Man." And the host is none other than the always provocative Morgan Spurlock. I want to give you a sneak peek at his time spent working in the medical marijuana industry.



Not only now do I have a card which makes me have the ability to buy cannabis in the state of California, but because I have this form, which I was even more shocked by, now, I have the ability to grow marijuana in the state of California. In San Francisco I can grow up to 24 plants in my backyard if I so wanted to.

(voice-over): Now that I've got my card, my next stop is across the bay in Oakland to Harborside Health Center.

Harborside was founded in 2006 as a model of what a medical marijuana dispensary could be. They serve between 600 and 800 patients every single day, making them the largest dispensary in the United States.

But according to the feds, Harborside is the largest illegal drug dispensary in the country and today, I'm Harborside's newest hire.

Harborside faces an uncertain future. Federal efforts have already forced a closure of 600 other dispensaries in California alone. U.S. Attorney Melinda Hague has pursued it with a vengeance, but Harborside has decided to fight back. And within a month, the courts will decide whether or not Harborside can continue to do business in California.

(on camera): It's a lot nicer than I thought it would be. It looks like a proper health clinic, but it smells like my -- it smells like my college bedroom.


GUPTA: I want to know what happens. I guess we'll have to watch the documentary.

SPURLOCK: You got to watch the show. You got to watch it on Sunday night.

GUPTA: It's honor to have you on the program.

SPURLOCK: It's an honor to meet you.

GUPTA: What made you do this particular topic?

SPURLOCK: You know, it's one of those topics you hear every politician talk about, every time there's a debate it comes up and people have very distinct views with it, either you are very against it is or very much for it. And I said, let's get into it and find out what it's all about and it's pretty eye opening once you dive deeper.

GUPTA: Four hundred to 600 customers/patients, what do you call those?

SPURLOCK: More than 600 patients a day.

GUPTA: They call them patients?


GUPTA: Is that what surprised you the most?

SPURLOCK: I love the way that everybody who goes there they call patients. I love that -- they are trying to switch the vernacular. You know, they are really trying to change the way you look at these type of people which I think is smart, they are calling them patients. The people come there who have serious -- they have real medical problems, you know, they're coming in usually with some sort of a doctor's recommendation.

And, you know, I went there thinking it was just going to be a bunch of stoners coming in, dude, I got my card, where's the good weed, you know? Like I thought, that's what I would expect, and it was really the inverse of that.

GUPTA: You know, and you and I were talking a little bit about this on the break and I've been investigating this as well. And I find it fascinating, but that's the perception, Morgan.

SPURLOCK: That's right.

GUPTA: It's a bunch of stoners and these are not legitimate patients.

SPURLOCK: That's right.

GUPTA: You have doctors hanging out in board shorts.

SPURLOCK: That's right.

GUPTA: You say there was a lot of legitimacy than you --


SPURLOCK: I met so many people who were coming in there, who were suffering from illnesses that had them on a variety of drugs, you know, highly addictive drugs, drugs like OxyContin, Oxycodone, who once they came there and -- I mean, we live in a country where we do love to prescribe pills for everything, you know, rather than try to find an alternative and these people, once they came there, and got on this time of medical marijuana prescription, suddenly were off these other medications.

I met soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq suffering from PTSD who couldn't function around their families, they couldn't really have a proper home life and once they got on the medication could actually, you know, find some grounding in their daily lives.

GUPTA: It's a pleasure to have you. And I can't wait to see the documentary and great that you're here at CNN.

SPURLOCK: Thanks, Sanjay. Great to see you.

GUPTA: You, too. Thank you.

SPURLOCK: Thank you.

GUPTA: So, who is growing it, who is selling it and who is getting it? "INSIDE MAN" with my new colleague Morgan Spurlock debuts this Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on.

Now, there's something you may not know about SGMD, but often while I am taping this show, I got my dog sitting here at my feet. I'm going to tell you how my best friend Bosco is helping me live a longer, happier and healthier life.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: Looking for a natural health boost? Well, get a pet. This is my best buddy, 13 years now Bosco. I'll tell you pets like Bosco are not only good for the family but they can be good for your health as well. Studies have shown that when we care for an animal, our own cortisol levels also known as a stress hormone, they actually go down.

Researchers also say anxiety levels decrease in adults when they're hanging out with their pets and they're also less likely to be depressed. Dogs are good for babies as well, incidentally. As a dad of three girls, I can tell you this. And, of course, Bosco here, I was happy to read the results of a new study that found pets ward off certain illnesses for children. Researchers found that babies who had more interaction with animals, actually had fewer health problems and needed fewer medications as well when they were drugs.

Now, if you need more convincing to adopt a pet, although you shouldn't by this point, know this: sedentary people who get a dog, they lose on average about 14 pounds a year. And that's without dieting.

It's going to wrap things up for SGMD today. But stay connected with me at I'll show some pictures of Bosco every now and then. Let's keep the conversation going on Twitter as well @DrSanjayGupta.

Time now, though, for a check of your top stories making news right now.