Council for Responsible Nutrition Says Lancet Researcher Conclusions
DC, 12 June 2003
Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) today reacted strongly to
a meta-analysis on vitamin E and beta-carotene appearing in the
June 14 issue of The Lancet, calling the study's conclusions
"irresponsible, overinterpreted, and old news disguised as something
new for publicity purposes."
meta-analysis, conducted by researchers from the Cleveland Clinic
Foundation, provided overgeneralized interpretations of previously
published clinical trials on vitamin E and beta-carotene and their
effect on heart health.
to John Hathcock, PhD, CRN's vice president of scientific and international
affairs, "This meta-analysis hasn't told us anything we didn't already
know. But that didn't stop the researchers from making sweeping
statements that are not justifiable based on the studies they reviewed.
For example, they discount the potential health benefit of vitamin
E for heart disease based largely on their review of secondary intervention
trials on subjects with established heart disease. But what many
researchers refer to as the 'antioxidant hypothesis' is the belief
that antioxidants may be effective in decreasing the risk of heart
disease if consumed before the atherosclerosis develops."
also pointed out that the researchers suggest that beta-carotene
supplementation should be discouraged, even though none of the beta-carotene
studies included in the article suggest a risk to non-smokers. The
evidence for a small but statistically significant risk with high-dose
beta-carotene is derived entirely from two clinical trials in smokers
and in others at high risk of heart disease. In both of those trials,
the increased risk occurred primarily in people who smoked, and
as a result it is generally recommended that smokers should not
use high-dose beta-carotene.
is nothing short of irresponsible for the researchers to suggest
that research on vitamin E and beta-carotene be stopped," said Dr.
Hathcock. "In fact, the researchers admit that their analysis 'does
not disprove' the antioxidant hypothesis. They even outline a variety
of approaches that could be taken in further studies. It would be
a major disservice to the public health to stop research on antioxidants
in relation to heart disease."
contrast to the assertion of the authors, this meta-analysis is
not the last word on the health benefits of vitamin E and beta-carotene,"
said Dr. Hathcock. "It appears they are simply trying to make headlines
by taking old news and adding drastic and unjustified recommendations."
E is a safe and effective antioxidant and an essential nutrient
required for maintenance of health. It has potential benefits for
vision, Alzheimer's disease, counteracting free radicals to play
a role in fighting cancers, and reducing the risk of coronary disease.
Beta-carotene is a safe and effective form of vitamin A, which like
all vitamins, is essential to health and to life itself. Scientists
consider it desirable for part of the vitamin A activity in the
diet or in a multivitamin to be derived from beta-carotene. Experts
at The Linus Pauling Institute Conference on Diet and Optimum Health,
a recent conference on antioxidants, emphasized the need for more
research to identify optimal intakes of antioxidant nutrients for
health promotion and disease prevention.
Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington
DC-based trade association representing dietary supplement industry
ingredient suppliers and manufacturers. CRN members adhere to a
strong code of ethics, comply with dosage limits and manufacture
dietary supplements to high quality standards under good manufacturing
for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).