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Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy – Further Developments

By on April 16, 2013

Although the results of the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) were announced in early November of 2012, TACT is still sending shockwaves throughout the medical community and the media at large as it sparks a crucial conversation about the biases inherent in science.
The Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy was a randomized trial of 1700 patients over 50 who had suffered a heart attack. Patients received either 40 infusions of EDTA chelation or a placebo over the course of one year, and were then monitored for several years. Those who had received EDTA had a statistically significant 18% reduced risk of death, stroke, heart attack or revascularization. Participants who also had diabetes got much more benefit, with a 39% risk reduction.
Commenting at the time the results were released, Richard Nahas MD, Director of Seekers Centre for Integrative Medicine and Assistant Professor of the University of Ottawa’s Department of Family Medicine said, “Like any great landmark study, TACT has generated more questions than answers.  Who else may benefit from chelation?  How does it work?  How can it be made better?”  Shadi Nahas PhD, Seekers Centre’s research director and co-founder, concurred: “Other researchers will hopefully try to replicate our findings. If they confirm the positive results of TACT, chelation therapy may one day be widely used in hospitals and clinics around the world.”
As the Canadian Country Leaders of TACT, the Seekers Centre for Integrative Medicine has been following the latest developments surrounding TACT with interest.
On March 27, 2013, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of TACT. The study has caused a great deal of controversy, as chelation has been maligned for years by the conventional cardiology community. Howard Bauchner, the journal’s editor-in-chief, felt compelled to defend the journal’s choice to publish TACT’s findings.

Chelation found an ally in Forbes medical writer and cardiologist Harlan Krumholz. In his blog article “Chelation Therapy: What to do with inconvenient evidence,” Krumholz admits that while he originally came from a place of skepticism toward chelation therapy, he has become intrigued by TACT’s positive results and the future research the trial could inspire. He urges his fellow doctors to re-examine their assumptions and open themselves to the exciting implications of TACT’s findings. Krumholz’s article was in turn met with what he calls “shrill and brutish” criticism. He responded to critics by drawing their attention to an insightful, transparent interview of TACT researchers published on Cardio Exchange, a New England Journal of Medicine online community.

The controversy sparked by TACT only serves to highlight the double standards faced by complementary and alternative medical practitioners when it comes to having their treatments taken seriously by physicians. We at the Seekers Centre are obviously dismayed yet unsurprised at this further evidence of inherent bias in the medical and scientific community.  Our society expects science to be objective and based on facts, but TACT clearly shows that scientists are people too; they are not immune from prejudice and closed-minded thinking. Our thoughts and feelings are hard to change, but we cannot ignore facts: chelation works.
We at Seekers applaud brave voices like Mr. Krumholz’s, and are hopeful that his incisive article is the first of many to accept good scientific evidence and embrace complementary and alternative medicine therapies as rightful parts of mainstream medicine. 

Richard Nahas MD

Director – Seekers Centre for Integrative Medicine

Assistant Professor – Department of Family Medicine, University of Ottawa 

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