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Coronary Heart Disease

2004 Edition

New Research:
Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene Do Not Prevent Heart Disease Deaths

Taking vitamin E or beta-carotene supplements does not reduce the risk of dying of CHD, a new analysis of previous research shows.

The analysis combined data from seven vitamin E trials and eight beta-carotene trials that tested the effect of these vitamins on various conditions, including CHD, stroke, lung cancer, skin cancer, and eye diseases. In each trial, over 1,000 older participants, randomized to receive a vitamin supplement or a placebo, were followed for 1 1/2 to 12 years.

Vitamin E supplementation did not change the overall rate of death or death from CHD or stroke compared with a placebo. Beta-carotene was associated with slightly more deaths from any cause compared with a placebo (7.4% vs. 7%) and slightly more deaths from CHD or stroke compared with a placebo (3.4% vs. 3.1%). This small increase in risk in the beta-carotene group, which was highly significant, was partly due to the large number of smokers in the beta-carotene trials; beta-carotene is known to increase health risks in people who smoke.

Vitamin E supplements should not be used to prevent CHD or CHD events, the authors conclude. They further argue that the use of supplements containing beta-carotene or vitamin A should be “actively discouraged.”

The Lancet
Volume 361, page 2017
June 14, 2003



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