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Health & medicine

No proof vitamins help heart

By Associated Press
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 13, 2003

LONDON - Vitamin E and beta carotene pills are useless for warding off major heart problems, and beta carotene, a source of vitamin A, may be harmful, an analysis of key studies concluded.

Many experts say the article this week in The Lancet medical journal settles the issue of antioxidant vitamins for heart health.

But others argue the pills might still prove useful if started earlier, and while they do not seem to prevent heart attacks and premature death, further studies may show they help to delay the onset or progression of heart disease or other blood vessel problems.

Antioxidant nutrients, especially vitamin E, were widely recommended a few years ago as a way of keeping the heart healthy. However, several recent large studies failed to show any benefit, and a few raised the possibility that the pills might be harmful for some.

The latest research, conducted by scientists at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, analyzed the pooled results from 15 key studies involving nearly 220,000 people.

"The public health viewpoint would have to be that there's really nothing to support widespread use of these vitamins," said Dr. Ian Graham, a professor of cardiology in Dublin, Ireland.

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