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Richard A. Passwater

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Richard A. Passwater (1937–2022) was an American conspiracy theorist, naturopath quack, cholesterol denialist, vitamin woo advocate and opponent of water fluoridation. Passwater is said to have authored 45 books and 600 articles.[1]


Passwater obtained his PhD from Bernadean University, a mail-order diploma mill, which is unaccredited and so its degrees have no real meaning.[2][3] Passwater did have a bachelor of science degree from the University of Delaware and did work as an industrial chemist.[4]


Megavitamin therapy[edit]

His 1975 book Supernutrition: Megavitamin Revolution[5] was an early book to popularize megavitamin therapy.[6] He wrote articles for WholeFoods Magazine[note 1] and was its editor for 36 years.[1] He wrote Pycnogenol: The Super Protector Nutrient in 1994 and Pycnogenol for Superior Health in 2001 recommending the use of Pycnogenol supplements to reduce cancer, heart disease and stroke risk. Pycnogenol is an extract from the bark of the Pinus pinaster, it is not a nutrient. Pine bark is a rich source of polyphenols, including proanthocyanidins which have antioxidant capacity.[7] However, there is no clinical evidence that Pycnogenol supplements can reduce all the diseases Passwater listed in his books.[8]

Passwater also advocated high-dose selenium supplements (200 µg/day) to reduce cancer risk.[9][10] As of 2023 there is no evidence that selenium supplements reduce the risk of cancer. A Cochrane review of randomized controlled trials found that "well‐designed and well‐conducted RCTs have shown no beneficial effect of selenium supplements in reducing cancer risk (high certainty of evidence). Some RCTs have raised concerns by reporting a higher incidence of high‐grade prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes in participants with selenium supplementation."[11] There is evidence that high-dose selenium supplementation (above 140 µg/day) actually increases the risk of prostate cancer.[12] Passwater's article "Selenium Against Viruses" was copied to the conspiracy website[13]

He was inducted into the Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame in 2021 by the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine which says a lot about his advocacy of pseudoscience.[4]

Quackwatch have listed Passwater's Cancer and Its Nutritional Therapies on their list of Nonrecommended Books.[14]

Water fluoridation[edit]

Passwater was a staunch opponent of water fluoridation which he claimed lowers children's IQ,[15] when in reality such studies have been criticized for containing methodological flaws and are barely statistically significant.[16]


  1. WholeFoods Magazine has no connection to Whole Foods Market.