Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Antioxidants don't help heart

I'm probably going to get in trouble for saying this, but there are many homeopathy and complementary health professionals (image credit) who are scratching their heads following the latest study from the Archives of Internal Medicine. (abcnews.com)
A study released today in the Archives of Internal Medicine is the latest to put a dent in the theory that vitamins such as C, E and antioxidants such as beta carotene can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular events.

Although previous research has come to similar conclusions, the study at hand is perhaps one of the largest to debunk the idea that these vitamins can lead to a healthier heart.
In the past, conventional wisdom (as well as some early research) stated that there was a protective effect that antioxidant vitamins had on the prevention of heart disease and stroke. In my opinion, there has been an entire alternative medicine industry built on this belief.
"Although theoretically these antioxidants would appear to be protective … these antioxidant vitamins have not lived up to their promises," says Dr. Carl Lavie, director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at Ochsner Medical Center.

"Studies of nutrients for disease prevention all indicate that the active ingredient in a healthful diet is a healthful diet, and not some isolated nutrient we can put in a pill," says Dr. David Katz, director of the prevention research center at Yale University.
Of course, research is ongoing. And, probably in 3-6 months, there will be another study published claiming to debunk this study. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that complementary medicine is bad and the type of medicine I practice is better.

I'll just be curious on the public reaction to this news. For example, when I mention any prescription drug, my patients can list all the side effects that they say on television. 

How about when I tell them, "You know, the $50 you spend every month on antioxidants may not help your heart as much as you think." Will people stop taking their antioxidant vitamins based on these study results?


Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

i used to take a,c, and e. then i had to take a blood test for insurance. my liver enzymes were WAY over what they should have been. it was the vitamin a that caused it. i stopped taking them then, that was about 16 years ago i think. thanks doc!

smiles, bee

makeminetrauma said...

Things will change, one study "prooves" things to be detrimental and another one comes along and "prooves" the same to be beneficial. Go figure. Meanwhile I'll stick to the red wine theory of health benefits!


Scott said...

Hmmm . . . I really don't listen to studies anymore. They do contradict so often.

So the next time that some breaking story comes out that says something absurd like water causes cancer, I'll just chuckle and keep drinking it. Nobody lives forever.

I like what it said about a helthy diet and lifestyle is the most benficial.

Eating 14 Big Macs a day and taking a multi-vitamin is not heathly. Although I wouldn't be surprised if a study or a diet came out saying that was the way to go!

twilite said...

I wish more will read this post. Great write. Keep these coming doc!

Scott said...

Gaaa! You just ruined any perception I had that the giant mug o' gin and grape juice I just poured had anything healthy in it!

No good for my heart, and of course horrid on my liver, brain, and a good dose of carginogen! Mm-mmm!