Antioxidant Supplements Up Death Risk
Study Shows No Benefit, Slightly Higher Death Risk for Antioxidant Supplements
Antioxidant Supplements and Death Risk continued...
"This is a great study. It is the highest form of scientific
evidence," Miller tells WebMD. "I don't think that [Shao's] criticism
is legitimate. I argue this is the best technique to analyze all this
Gluud and Bjelakovic strongly disagree that they "cherry picked"
only studies that fit some preconceived conclusion. They point out that all of
their methods are "transparent" and open to public view.
"Anyone is welcome to criticize our research," Gluud says. "But
my question is, what is your evidence? I think the parties that want to sell or
use these antioxidant supplements in the dosages used in these trials, they
want [to see only] positive evidence that it works beneficially."
Advice to Consumers
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. She
reviewed the Bjelakovic/Gluud study for this article.
"This is a very comprehensive, to-be-respected analysis. This isn't just
another study coming out," Zelman says. "The bottom line is that
antioxidant supplements are not a magic bullet for disease prevention. We hoped
maybe they were, but they are not."
If you are interested in protecting your health, Zelman says, pills aren't
"There is no single food or nutrient that is going to be the answer. The
secret really is lifestyle," she says. "And the most important things
about lifestyle are being at a healthy weight, being physically active, and
eating a healthy diet."
Shao says he's not persuaded to stop taking antioxidant supplements.
"I take antioxidant supplements every day," he says. "I know
more about these nutrients than most people do, including the authors of this
study, who are not nutritionists. This does not change a thing for me. You can
take that to the bank."
Zelman has this advice: If you plan to continue taking antioxidant
supplements, don't exceed the recommended daily doses.
"For nutritional insurance, my suggestion would be a once-daily
multivitamin," she says. "But for those people who take multiple
supplements, and are going to continue to do so, heed the warning and be sure
to respect the safe upper dosage limits."
"If you are in doubt, take the time and go to your doctor and talk with
her or him," Gluud advises.