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Heart Disease Health Center

HRT, Vitamins C & E Don't Help Heart

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The researchers concluded that postmenopausal women with coronary disease should be discouraged from using both HRT and high doses of vitamin E and C.

"Death was not a primary endpoint, but the large number of deaths in the vitamin group was a surprise," researcher David D. Waters, MD, of San Francisco General Hospital, tells WebMD. "These results could be a fluke, but they are disturbing."

A news release issued Tuesday by a vitamin industry trade association argues that the conclusions drawn by Waters and his colleagues are based on "flawed" research. The Council for Responsible Nutrition release concludes that, "the WAVE study should not be considered the final word" on the safety of vitamins E and C in patients with heart disease.

But Waters counters that while his study is one of the first to find that antioxidant vitamins may be dangerous for people with coronary disease, no well designed studies have shown them to be beneficial.

"When people hear the word vitamin, they sort of let down their defenses," he says. "After all, your mother told you to take your vitamins so they must be good for you. But there are a lot of treatments out there that have been proven effective. My plea would be that people pay more attention to the things that are proven to work and less attention to things that are of no benefit."

Bonow agrees. He tells WebMD that while it is not clear that vitamin E is harmful, he counsels his heart patients to avoid antioxidant supplements.

"There may be other reasons to take vitamin E, but I wouldn't be taking it for heart protection," he says.

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