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Popular Science News | Anti-Oxidant Supplements – Kill or Cure?

Popular Science News | Anti-Oxidant Supplements – Kill or Cure? This is another Cochrane Collaboration report combining eligible research in order to assess whether medical intervention are effective. In this case, anti-oxidant supplements are placed under the microscope:

Authors’ conclusions: 

We found no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention. Beta-carotene and vitamin E seem to increase mortality, and so may higher doses of vitamin A. Antioxidant supplements need to be considered as medicinal products and should undergo sufficient evaluation before marketing. [Anti-oxidant Supplements]

To reach the conclusion that anti-oxidant supplements had little effect on increasing life expectancy, 78 randomised trials with 296,707 participants were studied. There was even some suggestion that anti-oxidants can be harmful. However, these findings do not necessarily reject the effectiveness of anti-oxidants found naturally in food. The findings of other studies suggest that eating fruit and vegetables is a healthy habit but not because of the anti-oxidants they contain.

People who eat fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease and some neurological diseases, and there is evidence that some types of vegetables, and fruits in general, may lower risk against some cancers. Since fruits and vegetables happen to be good sources of nutrients and phytochemicals, this suggested that antioxidant compounds might lower risk against several diseases. This idea has been tested in a limited manner in clinical trials and does not seem to be true, as antioxidant supplements have no clear effect on the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. This suggests that these health benefits come from other substances in fruits and vegetables (possibly dietary fiber) or come from a complex mix of compounds. [Wikipedia]

Looks like the anti-oxidant ‘fad’ is groundless.

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