When Faith and Medicine Collide

The article on when faith and medicine collide {Cover, Sept. 25} was an excellent treatment of the Christian Science question. Two points of particular interest: 1. Christian Science is a well-established religion. 2. Christian Science never offers a comparison of cure rates (prayer alone vs. medical treatment) for diseases in which it is accused of being negligent.

What makes these points so interesting is their presentation of a philosophical slippery slope. If prayer alone is found to be ineffective in certain diseases, perhaps a statistical analysis would show prayer plus medical treatment to be no more effective than medical treatment alone in any diseases. Alan E. Johnsrud Arlington

Is the thinking man or woman supposed to believe that the story on faith and medicine is an unbiased piece of journalism? It seems aimed more at making fun of Christian Science than its ostensible purpose of addressing the issue of viable health care for our children.

The author states, "Most Christian Scientists never see doctors for diagnosis." This is true, except that in many cases people only turn to Christian Science after medical science has given them up. Then they find healing in Christian Science. Sometimes these healings are confirmed by medical diagnosis, but many times they are not. However, when you are suffering and you find yourself well, what more confirmation do you need? To think of healing as something that can only take place as the result of drugs or surgery is to severely limit the meaning of the word. Consuela H. Allen Rockville

More on Vitamin Supplements

I have been following the controversy over vitamin and mineral supplements since the early 1960s, so the article on the battle over vitamins and minerals {Nutrition, Sept. 25} caught my eye.

With soaring health costs and worsening health statistics a part of our world, I am going to increase my consumption of vitamins A and C, and others, because they all work together. I don't need a guarantee, since nothing can guarantee good health, anyway, and I'm not waiting for all the evidence, since it will take too long. Meanwhile, taking vitamins is easy, and eating tomatoes, squashes and oranges is enjoyable. Christiane Marks Ridge, Md.

Almost every article on this subject sets up an unnecessary conflict between whether we should obtain all the essential vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet selected from a variety of foods vs. all our nutrients from dietary supplements. Such an either/or distinction misses two critical points. First, few people receive all the required daily nutrients from their diets alone because they do not, in fact, select the foods that offer those nutrients. Second, supplements fill nutrient gaps -- they do not substitute for foods.

Therefore, the relationship between food and supplements should be viewed as complementary. Consumers who do not get their essential nutrients from food choices can benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements; perhaps this is why an estimated 40 percent of the U.S. population uses supplements daily and responsibly. J.B. Cordaro President Council for Responsible Nutrition An association of the nutritional supplement industry Washington

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