Wednesday, March 16, 2005


By Paul H.B Shindaily News Staff Writer Vitamin E got another damning F grade yesterday from researchers who found that popping high doses doesn't help protect against heart disease or cancer - and could even be bad for your heart. "The coffin is pretty well nailed shut on Vitamin E," said Dr. Greg Brown, a cardiologist at the University of Washington, who wrote an editorial accompanying the findings in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. "Vitamin E doesn't help and, I think, there's sufficient evidence to say that Vitamin E in higher doses may indeed be detrimental," Brown told the Daily News, although he added that it may still prove useful for some ailments, such as kidney disease or severe eye problems. But the results add to mounting evidence that antioxidant vitamins - E, C and beta carotene - are useless against cancer or heart disease. "We were surprised there was no benefit," said lead researcher Dr. Eva Lonn, a cardiologist at McMaster University near Toronto. She noted that the conclusion of a greater risk of heart failure among people older than 55 with high blood pressure needs to be confirmed by further study. The results of the trial, which tracked more than 9,000 people for seven years, follows research released last week on nearly 40,000 healthy women showing no heart benefits from Vitamin E. And Johns Hopkins University scientists found in November that that seniors taking 400 international units, or IUs, of Vitamin E were slightly more likely todie of any cause than those on smaller doses. Vitamin E pills commonly found in pharmacies and health food stores contain 400 IUs - about 20 times thegovernment-recommended amount. About one in eight American adults takes 400 IUs of Vitamin E every day, according to reports by the nutritional supplement industry, which sold more than $710 million of Vitamin E pills in 2003. Vitamin E was hailed as an elixir of youth after two large studies in the early 1990s showed regular users had less heart trouble. But those studies - unlike more regimented clinical trials - could not rule out the possibility that people taking dietary supplements might be healthier to begin with. Annette Dickinson, president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a Washington trade group for vitamin makers, said the study is "not the final word on Vitamin E," and said researchers are now studying whether it protects against prostate cancer.

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