Antioxidants Offer Benefits for Those Participating in Strenuous, Moderate-Altitude Training
WebMD News Archive
Overall, Pritsos was critical of the study and its design. "I was
disappointed by ... how they [failed to] control for their subjects'
differences" on measures relevant to oxidative stress. Of particular
concern to him was that the researchers did not take possible confounders, such
as prior diets, prior training, and most importantly, smoking into account.
"Smoking has a major impact on oxidative stress, and all of these are
Pritsos also has concerns that the investigators report no attempt to ensure
the Marines were actually taking the placebo supplement. In studies of this
nature, he says, "You need some kind of compliance measure," he says.
Another weakness in the study was that the investigators failed to spell out
pre- and post-measurements of oxidative stress, which Pritsos argues are
critical for assessing the benefits and possible harms of the supplements.
Joy E. Swanson, PhD, also raises red flags about the study. "I think it
is difficult to make any conclusion here about what looks like a lack of
response" in the study, says Swanson. "One glaring error is that they
did not even measure the response to diet. ... The military fortifies a heck of
a lot of its food." Swanson is a research associate in nutrition sciences
at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
Both Pritsos and Swanson worry that this study might be reviewed
uncritically and misguide patients and physicians. Based on a slew of
high-quality research, both question whether the study was simply not powered
enough to evaluate the benefits of the specific supplements. And both
researchers say that for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy,
antioxidants could prove helpful because those treatments produce an excess of
The study was supported by Ross Products of Abbott Laboratories, DataChem
Laboratories, and the U.S. Naval Research Center.
- A new study shows a modest benefit for taking antioxidants while
participating in strenuous exercise at moderate elevations.
- Antioxidants work by helping the body neutralize potentially damaging free
- Some experts criticized the study for its design, but agree that
antioxidants are helpful for people under oxidative stress, which can be caused
by high altitudes.