Vitamins and Good Sense

By Dr. Matthew Watson

By Bernadine Healy M.D.
Posted 3/4/07

Vitamin studies always seem to stir controversy, but certainly not visions of death. On that score, last week's report on antioxidant vitamins, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was a doozy. The researchers concluded that people taking the antioxidants vitamins A, its precursor beta carotene, and vitamin E, for whatever reason, at whatever dose, and for however long, may be putting their lives in jeopardy. But before you toss out your vitamin pills, let's examine this alarmist study a little bit closer.

Researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital set out to determine whether the antioxidant supplements lengthen one's life. That's difficult to answer, since most people taking vitamins are healthy. So the researchers identified antioxidant clinical trials large and small, as long as they reported at least one death. Any death counted, whether from heart disease or cancer, kidney failure or hip fractures, murders or suicides. Out of 747 antioxidant trials reviewed, 68 met the bill. Then, in what is called a meta-analysis, the 68 trials were combined into what is effectively one study. Read more...

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