Quality survey Health benefits Safety Reading labels Ask the supplier Standards & regulations


Testing news
Ask the expert
Contact us
Privacy policy

Research news

Lancet study finds no health benefit from antioxidants supplements in high-risk individuals
14 August 2002
by Wyn Snow, Managing Editor

Research published a recent issue of Lancet, a highly respected British medical journal, finds that supplementation with antioxidant vitamins (E, C, and beta-carotene) does not show an impact on important measures of health and disease among individuals who are already ill.

This randomized, double-blind study followed 20,536 patients over a 5-year period. One group took daily supplements of 600 mg vitamin E, 250 mg vitamin C, and 20 mg beta-carotene; the other received an equivalent placebo. Compliance with taking the supplement or placebo averaged 83% over the course of the trial.

The study participants ranged from 40 to 80 years of age, and all were ill: 41% had previous experienced a heart attack and 24% had other coronary disease. Only 7150 participants (35%) did not have coronary disease, but instead suffered from cerebrovascular disease (25%), peripheral arterial disease (38%), and/or diabetes mellitus (56%). Some participants, both those suffering from coronary disease and those who did not, had more than one of these conditions. 75% of the participants were male, 25% female. Although 41% of the study population had treated hypertension, only 1% were included in the study on the basis of this finding alone. Randomization of these and other factors between the two groups was good.

Researchers found no significant differences between the two groups in mortality (deaths) -- or in incidence of any kind of vascular disease (heart attacks or strokes), cancer, or other major outcomes. The vitamin regimen did result in increased blood plasma concentrations of the corresponding vitamins: twice the level of -tocopherol, one-third higher level of vitamin C, and quadruple that of beta-carotene. The study also found small but highly significant increases total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in the vitamin group's blood serum.


Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group. MRC/BHF Heart Protection Study of antioxidant vitamin supplementation in 20 536 high-risk individuals: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet, 2002; 360: 23-33.end-of-story


Health benefits Safety Reading labels Ask the supplier Standards & regulations Contact us

(c) Copyright 1999-2003 Dietary Supplement Quality Initiative. For permission to reprint, please contact our editor.