Vitamins Seen as No Help in Heart Disease
Many people take vitamins C and E in hopes of reducing their risk for heart disease, and some research supports those hopes. But a large long-term trial has found that the supplements work no better than placebos.
Scientists enrolled 14,641 male physicians in the study, dividing them into four groups of roughly 3,600 each. The first took 400 international units of vitamin E every other day and 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily; the second, vitamin E and a placebo vitamin C; the third took vitamin C and placebo vitamin E; and the last only placebos. Neither the subjects nor the scientists knew which groups were taking the active vitamins.
After eight years, the researchers found no difference among the groups in the incidence of heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure or angina. And taking the vitamins did not reduce the need for cardiac revascularization, a surgical operation to restore adequate blood flow to the heart.
Several of the authors have served as consultants to drug companies, and the study was partly financed by the German company BASF, whose products include vitamins. It appeared Nov. 12 in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
“There are no compelling reasons to take either vitamin E or C for cardiovascular disease prevention,” said the lead author, Howard D. Sesso, an assistant professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We’re still testing whether taking a standard multivitamin has an effect.”