From John Ray's shorter notes

January 12, 2015

Another nail in coffin of the antioxidant religion

Are antioxidants a waste of money? Latest study says eating expensive 'superfoods' or taking supplements WON'T help you live longer. That dynamo of research in the area, Beatrice Golomb, will not be surprised. In a recent correspondence with me she said: "Personally, I have never advocated, to anyone, carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E as d-alpha tocopherol, or folic acid in supplement form". The only pill that she is favors these days is the recently revived CoEnzyme Q10 -- but see here, here and here for skepticism about that

Some previous "nails": The experimental evidence is that antioxidants SHORTEN your life, if anything. Studies here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here, for instance. That they are of benefit is a great theory but it is one that has been coshed by reality plenty of times.

People who get a lot of antioxidants in their diets, or who take them in supplement form, don't live any longer than those who just eat well overall, according to a long term study of retirees in California.

Antioxidants, including vitamins A, C and E, are plentiful in vegetables and fruits and may help protect against cell or DNA damage.  As a result, they've been touted for cancer prevention, heart disease prevention and even warding off dementia.

'There is good scientific evidence that eating a diet with lots of vegetables and fruits is healthful and lowers risks of certain diseases,' said lead author Annlia Paganini-Hill of the Clinic for Aging Research and Education at the University of California, Irvine.

'However, it is unclear whether this is because of the antioxidants, something else in these foods, other foods in people's diet, or other lifestyle choices,' Paganini-Hill told Reuters Health by email.

Most double-blind randomized clinical trials - the gold standard of medical evidence - have found that antioxidant supplements do not prevent disease, she said.

The researchers used mailed surveys from the 1980's in which almost 14,000 older residents of the Leisure World Laguna Hills retirement community detailed their intake of 56 foods or food groups rich in vitamins A and C as well as their vitamin supplement intake.

With periodic check-ins and repeated surveys, the researchers followed the group for the next 32 years, during which time 13,104 residents died.

When Paganini-Hill's team accounted for smoking, alcohol intake, caffeine consumption, exercise, body mass index, and histories of hypertension, angina, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, there was no association between the amount of vitamins A or C in the diet or vitamin E supplements and the risk of death.

Participants in the new study were largely white, educated and well-nourished.


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