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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Karen Weintraub, Deputy Health and Science Editor, and Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor.
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Monday, August 13, 2007
Antioxidants no magic bullet for heart disease, study says
Antioxidant pills do not protect high-risk women from cardiovascular disease, a Harvard study has found, adding to growing evidence that supplements can’t duplicate a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Taking vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene alone or together did not protect the women overall from heart attacks, coronary artery disease or stroke, Dr. JoAnne E. Manson of Harvard Medical School and colleagues report in today’s Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study of 8,171 women was the first large-scale randomized trial to look at the impact of vitamin C on the risk of cardiovascular events, and it was also the first to examine vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene individually and in combination, Manson said.
Previous randomized trials of antioxidants have been disappointing, failing to duplicate the promising results found in observational studies following people who ate high amounts of antioxidants in their food. Antioxidants have been the subject of much research because of the hope that they could limit the harm caused by compounds called free radicals.
They shouldn’t throw away their multivitamins, either, if they take them to make up for not eating a balanced diet, she said. The trial used doses much higher than can be found in multivitamins.