Healthy and Safe

October 25, 2007

There are over 480,000 published peer-reviewed research studies on food supplements or ingredients used in food supplements, and the vast majority of these show positive effects. There are only a small handful of studies that have shown negative effects, these generally being associated with high doses or synthetic forms of ingredients like vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin E.

In the case of vitamin A, there is no doubt that high doses of this fat soluble vitamin can be harmful and an upper safe level or maximum permitted level for this vitamin makes perfect sense.

There are three key studies showing negative effects of beta-carotene on diseased or high-risk patients, but these have all used synthetic beta-carotene, in the absence of natural carotenoid complexes found in natural carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables which have been found to be potent cancer-fighting nutrients. Ironically, these natural ‘mixed carotenoids’ are disallowed by the Food Supplements Directive.

Finally, there are four key negative studies on vitamin E, all of them conducted with synthetic vitamin E, which comprises only one of the eight vitamin E forms found in nature, but in its esterified form. This form, alpha-tocopherol, the only vitamin E form allowed by the Directive, actually reduces the body’s absorption of gamma-tocopherol which is the key antioxidant form of vitamin E found in food sources.

By: Robert Verkerk, The Alliance for Natural Health, United Kingdom

Vitamin E or False Indication of Goods

November 12, 2004

Calculations on the basis of old studies leads to claim of increased mortality by antioxidants and vitamin E, but is in reality based on studies with beta-carotene.

Recently, researchers published a study on beta-carotene, but called it antioxidants. Now there is a new study of beta carotene, but this time it is called vitamin E. Both studies are so-called meta-analyzes, ie. calculations of previous research.

The two studies claim to show that respectively antioxidants and vitamin E increase mortality, but they are both based on the results of old beta-carotene tests. Since 1994, it has been known that beta-carotene can cause cancer and increase mortality in at least male smokers.

By: Vitality Council

 

References:
1) Metaanalysis: High-dosage vitamin E supplementation may increase all-cause mortality. Ann Int Med 2004;142.
2) Bjelakowic G, Nikolova D, Simonetti R G, Gluud C. Antioxidant supplements for prevention of gastrointestinal cancers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet 2004;364:1219-28.
3) Ignarro L J et al. “Long Term Beneficial Effects of Physical Training and Metabolic Treatment on Atherosclerosis in Hypercholesterolemic Mice. PNAS 2004 (May 24).
4) Zandi PP et al. Reduced risk of Alzheimer disaease in users of antioxidant vitamin supplements. Arch Neurol 2004;61:82-88.
5) Gina Kolata: Large Doses of Vitamin E May Be Harmful. New York Times 11.11.04.

A Dangerous Cocktail

October 3, 2004

Politicizing researchers and lazy journalists are a dangerous cocktail.
It is very disgraceful that the Danish Radio’s TV news presented such a one-sided story about antioxidants, as happened at 6:30 p.m. yesterday, where it declared without any reservation that 9 people out of 1,000 taking antioxidants will die from them!

Just the day before, the Danish (state owned) Radio / Television received a press release from the Vitality Council, which was criticizing the story and emphasized that possible harmful effects can only be caused by taking beta-carotene in large (therapeutic) dosages.

This old news can in no way be used to generalize about other antioxidants. The postulated general overmortality refers to two studies, in which beta-carotene was used in such great amounts that the test persons became yellow.

The Vitality Council also emphasized in its press release that according to the Lancet study, selenium, a potent antioxidant, is able to halve the risk of several kinds of cancer. This result was not at all mentioned in the TV news.

Furthermore, even the official comment in The Lancet dissociated from that which was the only extract on TV from the study: The postulated overmortality. The Lancet comment is written by two statisticians, who are seriously criticizing the statistical preparation of the material, and they state that the conclusion about overmortality is not convincing.

Another critical point out of many is that the Cochrane group removed a study on selenium, which it had announced as being a ”high quality” study, before the calculation on average.

The reason given for removing the study was that it would be given more weight in the random-effects model than in the fixed-effect meta-analysis. The removed high-quality study showed that selenium clearly reduced mortality!

It is not very good science to ignore figures that you do not like.

The TV news journalists have been hunting for some sort of scandal and one-sidedly accepted the very dramatic statements of Christian Gluud, M.D., which went much further than what the study material could ever support.

The Lancet has saved its skin by its serious comment, but the writers have cast a bad shadow over the Cochrane institution.

By: Vitality Council

References:
1. TVA 2.nd October 2004, 6:30.
2. Press release from Vitality Council 1.st October 2004.
3. Goran Bjelakovic, Dimitrinka Nikolova, Rosa G Simonetti, Christian Gluud, Antioxidant supplements for prevention of gastrointestinal cancers: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Lancet 2004;364:1219-28.

www.lancet.com
www.cochrane.dk/index.htm
www.iom.dk

Antioxidants Prevent Lung Cancer After All

August 4, 2004

Smokers taking a wide range of antioxidants through their diet, reduce their risk of getting lung cancer. This is demonstrated by a follow up study from a world famous research study (ATBC). The ATBC study has been the source of the opposite interpretation for ten years.

The startling result is sourced from the so called ATBC-study, a Finnish study from 1994, which demonstrated that the risk for male smokers getting lung cancer did not decrease, but increased, when they were given large dosages of betacarotene – the yellow colouring substance in carrots.

The ATBC study was a shock for researchers all over the world, who on the basis of numerous animal studies were convinced that antioxidants prevent cancer. Since then the ATBC study has been the standing argument for recurrent warnings against antioxidants on TV etc.

In the new study, staticians from the prestigious American Yale University together with Finnish colleages looked through 1,787 cases of lung cancer, approximately the amount of the 27,000 male heavy smokers in the ATBC group, who got lung cancer during the 14 years.

In the new study, measurements were taken not just for one single antioxidant, but for the total intake of the antioxidants selenium, Vitamin E, Vitamin C as well as coloured parts in plants, the so called carotenoids and flavonoids. The most updated inclusive index was calculated in advance stating the total antioxidant intake with just one figure.

It turned out that the fifth of the smokers, who had the highest index statisticly seen through their diet, had a 16% less risk of lung cancer! Smokers who ate large amounts of meat had a 25% decrease, despite of red meat having a high oxidative effect! This supports the fact that it was the antioxidative effect that made the difference.

It is not the first time such results are seen, but they are of great importance, because they are sourced from the same ATBC study, which has been one of the most outspoken arguments to warn against antioxidants. Two other larger studies has found the risk of lung cancer decreased up to as much as 32% and 68%.

The researchers emphasize in a commentary, that when the original study was a disappointment, the explanation may lie in the fact that smokers did not get a combination of vitamins etc., but were given betacarotene alone. They recommend smokers to always take a wide selection of antioxidants as a protection against cancer.

By: Vitality Council

References:
1. Wright ME et al. Development of a comprehensive dietary antioxidant index and application to lung cancer risk in a corhort of male smokers. Am J Epidemiol 2004;160:68-76.
2. Yong LC et al.Intake og vitamins E, C and A and risk of lung cancer: The NHANES I epidemiologic follow-up study. Am J Epidemiol 1997;146:231-43.
3. Michaud DS et al. Intake of specific carotenoids and risk of lung cancer in 2 prospective US cohorts. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72:990-7.

jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/290/4/476
www.aje.oupjournals.org
www.ajcn.org
www.iom.dk

Vitamin A, Betacarotene, Research references

January 1999

1. Band P.R. et al. Treatment of Benign Breast Disease with Vitamin A. Prev Med 549-54, 1984.
2. Bendich A. Symposium conclusions: Biological actions of carotenoids. J Nutr 119: 112-5, 1989.
3. Bichler KH et al. Influence of vitamin A deficiency on the excretion of uromucoid and other substances in the urine of rats. Clin Nephrol 20:32-9, 1983.
4. Branowitz SA, Starrett B, Brookner AR. Carotene deficiency in HIV patients. AIDS 10; (1):115, 1996.
5. Burton GW, Ingold KU. Beta-carotene. An unusual type of lipid antioxidant. Scicnce 224: 569-573, 1984.
6. Cheraskin E, Ringsdorf WM, Medford FH. The ‘ideal’ daily vitamin A intake. Int J Vit Nutr Res 46: 11-13, 1976.
7. Chole Q. Vitamin A in the cochlea. Arch Otorhinolaryngol 124:379-82, 1978.
8. Comstock GW et al. Serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene, and retinol preceding the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Ann Rheum Dis 56: 323-5, 1997.
9. Connett JE, Kuller KH, Kjelsberg MO et al. Relationship between carotenoids and cancer. Cancer 64: 126-134, 1989.
10. Coutsoudis A, Bobat R, Coovadia H. The effects of vitamin-A supplementation on the morbidity of children born to HIV-infected women. Am J Public Health 85; (8):1076-81, 1995.
11. Delmas-Beauvieux M-C, Peuchant E, Couchouron A, et al. The enzymatic antioxidant system in blood and glutathione status in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients: Effects of supplementation with selenium or carotene. Am J Clin Nutr 64: 101-7, 1996.
12. DiMascio P, Murphy ME, Sies H. Antioxidant defense systems the role of carotenoids, tocopherols and thiols. Am J Clin Nutr 53: 194S-200S, 1991.
13. Eldred GE. Vitamins A and E in RPE lipofuscin formation and implications for age-related macular degeneration. Prog Clin Biol Res 314: 113-29, 1989.
14. Ferreira R et al. Antioxidant action of vitamins A and E in patients submitted to coronary bypass surgery. Vasc Surg 25: 191-195, 1991.
15. Gaby SK, Singh VN. Vitamin intake and health: A scientific review. New York: Marcel Dekker. p 29-57, 1991.
16. Gershoff SN, McGandy RB. The effects of vitamin A-deficient diets containing lactose in producing bladder calculi and tumors in rats. Am J Clin Nutr 34: 483, 1981.
17. Goodman DS. Vitamin A and retinoids in heath and disease. N Eng J Med 310: 1023-1031, 1984.
18. Hayes KC. Retinal degeneration in monkeys induced by deficiencies of vitamin E or A. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 13:7:499-510, 1974.
19. Honkanen V et al. Vitamins A and E, retinol binding protein and zinc in rheumatoid arthritis. Clin Exp Rheumatol 7: 465-9, 1989.
20. Honkanen VEA et al. Serum cholesterol and vitamins A and E in juvenile chronic arthritis. Clin Exp Rheumatol 8: 187-91, 1990.
21. Liao CH, Erdman JW, Johnston PV. Dietary vitamin A deficiency and the immune system in a murine model of systemic lupus erythematosus. Nutr Res 16: 279-92, 1996.
22. Lohle E. The influence of chronic vitamin A deficiency on human and animal ears. Arch Otorhinolaryngol 234:167-73, 1982.
23. Mckeown LA. Beta carotene lifts CD4 counts. Study reported in Medical Tribune Feb. 25, p. 1. 1993.
24. Mobarhan S, Bowen P, Andersen B et al. Effects of beta-carotene repletion on beta-carotene absorption, lipid peroxidation, and neutrophil superoxide formation in young men. Nutr Cancer 14: 195-206, 1990.
25. Newbold PCH. Beta-carotene in the treatment of discoid lupus erythematosus. Br J Dermatol 95: 100-1, 1976.
26. Olson JA. Vitamin A. In: Present knowledge in nutrition. 7th edn. Washington DC: Intemational Life Sciences Press. p 109-119, 1996.
27. Oson JA. Provitamin A function of carotenoids. Thc conversion of B-carotene to Vitamin A. J Nutr 119: 105-108, 1989.
28. Paganini-Hill A, Chao A, Ross RK et al. Vitamin A, beta carotene and the risk of cancer. A prospective study. J Natl Cancer Inst 79: 443-448, 1987.
29. Palgi A. Association between dietary changes and morality rates; Israel 1949 to 1977; a trend-free regression model. Am J Clin Nutr 34: 1569-1583, 1981.
30. Prince MR, Frisoli JK. Beta-carotene accumulation in serum and skin. Am J Clin Nutr 1993; 57: 175-181, 1993.
31. Pryor WA. The antioxidant nutrients and disease prevention what do we know and what do we need to find out? Am J Clin Nutr 53: 391S-393S, 1991.
32. Riemersma RA, Wood DA, MacIntyre CCH, et al. Risk of angina pectoris and plasma concentrations of vitamins A, C and E and carotene. Lancet 337:1-5, 1991.
33. Romeo G. The therapeutic effect of vitamins A and E in neurosensory hearing loss. Acta Vitaminol Enzymol 7 Suppl:85-92, 1985.
34. Sahyoun NR et al. Carotenoids, vitamins C and E, and mortality in an elderly population. Am J Epidemiol 144:5:501-11, 1996.
35. Sappey C et al. Vitamin, Trace element and Peroxide status in HIV seropositive patients: Asymptomatic patients present a severe Carotene Deficiency. Clin Clim Acta 230:35-42, 1994.
36. Semba R, Graham N, Caiaffa W, et al. Increased Mortality associated with Vitamin A Deficiency during Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 infection. Arch Intern Med 153:2149-54, 1993.
37. Semba RD, Park S, Royal W, Griffin DE. Vitamin A deficiency and T-cell subpopulation in HIV-infected adults. Nutr Res 16:915-23, 1996.
38. Sommer A., West, KP. The duration of the effect of vitamin A supplementation. Am J Public Health 1997; 87: 467, 1997.
39. Salonen JT. Risk of cancer in relation to serum concentrations of selenium and vitamins A and E: matched case-control analysis of prospective data. Br Mcd J 1985, 290: 417-420, 1985.
40. Schauss AG. Beta-carotene and the incidence of lung cancer in Finnish male smokers. A critique. Q Rev Natural Med 191-195, 1994.
41. Seddon JM, Ajani UA, Sperduto RD, et al. Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration. JAMA 272:1413-20, 1994.
42. Stahelin HB, Gey KB, Eichholzer M et al. Beta-carotene and cancer prevention. The Basel Study. Am J Clin Nutr 53: 265S-269S, 1991.
43. Street DA et al. Serum antioxidants and myocardial infarction: Are low levels of carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol risk factors for myocardial infarction? Circulation 90;3:1154-61, 1994.
44. Tang AM et al. Association between Serum Vitamin A and E levels and HIV-1 disease progression. AIDS 11:613-20, 1997.
45. Underwood BA. Was the ‘anti-infective’ vitamin misnamed? Nutr Rev 52: 140-143, 1994.
46. Vitale S et al. Plasma vitamin C, E and beta carotene levels and risk of cataract. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 32:723, 1991.
47. Weisburger J. Nutritional approach to cancer prevention with emphasis on vitamins, antioxidants, and carotenoids. Am J Clin Nutr 53: S226-237, 1991.
48. Weisberger JH. Nutritional approach to cancer prevention with emphasis on vitamins, antioxidants, and carotenoids. Am J Clin Nutr 1995; 53: 226s.
49. Werler MA, Lammer EJ, Mitchell AA. Teratogenicity of high vitamin A intake. Letter. N Eng J Med 334: 1195, 1995.
50. White WS, Kim Cl, Kalkwarf HJ et al. Ultraviolet light-induced reduction in plasma carotenoid levels. Am J Clin Nutr 47: 879-883, 1988.
51. Willette W. Nutritional epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press. p 292-310, 1990.
52. Ziegler RG. Vegetables, fruits and carotenoids and the risk of cancer. Am J Clin Nutr 53: 251S-259S, 1991.
Kilder
Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., Michael T. Murrey & Melvyn R. Werbach.
1. Band P.R. et al. Treatment of Benign Breast Disease with Vitamin A. Prev Med 549-54, 1984.
2. Bendich A. Symposium conclusions: Biological actions of carotenoids. J Nutr 119: 112-5, 1989.
3. Bichler KH et al. Influence of vitamin A deficiency on the excretion of uromucoid and other substances in the urine of rats. Clin Nephrol 20:32-9, 1983.
4. Branowitz SA, Starrett B, Brookner AR. Carotene deficiency in HIV patients. AIDS 10; (1):115, 1996.
5. Burton GW, Ingold KU. Beta-carotene. An unusual type of lipid antioxidant. Scicnce 224: 569-573, 1984.
6. Cheraskin E, Ringsdorf WM, Medford FH. The ‘ideal’ daily vitamin A intake. Int J Vit Nutr Res 46: 11-13, 1976.
7. Chole Q. Vitamin A in the cochlea. Arch Otorhinolaryngol 124:379-82, 1978.
8. Comstock GW et al. Serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene, and retinol preceding the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Ann Rheum Dis 56: 323-5, 1997.
9. Connett JE, Kuller KH, Kjelsberg MO et al. Relationship between carotenoids and cancer. Cancer 64: 126-134, 1989.
10. Coutsoudis A, Bobat R, Coovadia H. The effects of vitamin-A supplementation on the morbidity of children born to HIV-infected women. Am J Public Health 85; (8):1076-81, 1995.
11. Delmas-Beauvieux M-C, Peuchant E, Couchouron A, et al. The enzymatic antioxidant system in blood and glutathione status in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients: Effects of supplementation with selenium or carotene. Am J Clin Nutr 64: 101-7, 1996.
12. DiMascio P, Murphy ME, Sies H. Antioxidant defense systems the role of carotenoids, tocopherols and thiols. Am J Clin Nutr 53: 194S-200S, 1991.
13. Eldred GE. Vitamins A and E in RPE lipofuscin formation and implications for age-related macular degeneration. Prog Clin Biol Res 314: 113-29, 1989.
14. Ferreira R et al. Antioxidant action of vitamins A and E in patients submitted to coronary bypass surgery. Vasc Surg 25: 191-195, 1991.
15. Gaby SK, Singh VN. Vitamin intake and health: A scientific review. New York: Marcel Dekker. p 29-57, 1991.
16. Gershoff SN, McGandy RB. The effects of vitamin A-deficient diets containing lactose in producing bladder calculi and tumors in rats. Am J Clin Nutr 34: 483, 1981.
17. Goodman DS. Vitamin A and retinoids in heath and disease. N Eng J Med 310: 1023-1031, 1984.
18. Hayes KC. Retinal degeneration in monkeys induced by deficiencies of vitamin E or A. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 13:7:499-510, 1974.
19. Honkanen V et al. Vitamins A and E, retinol binding protein and zinc in rheumatoid arthritis. Clin Exp Rheumatol 7: 465-9, 1989.
20. Honkanen VEA et al. Serum cholesterol and vitamins A and E in juvenile chronic arthritis. Clin Exp Rheumatol 8: 187-91, 1990.
21. Liao CH, Erdman JW, Johnston PV. Dietary vitamin A deficiency and the immune system in a murine model of systemic lupus erythematosus. Nutr Res 16: 279-92, 1996.
22. Lohle E. The influence of chronic vitamin A deficiency on human and animal ears. Arch Otorhinolaryngol 234:167-73, 1982.
23. Mckeown LA. Beta carotene lifts CD4 counts. Study reported in Medical Tribune Feb. 25, p. 1. 1993.
24. Mobarhan S, Bowen P, Andersen B et al. Effects of beta-carotene repletion on beta-carotene absorption, lipid peroxidation, and neutrophil superoxide formation in young men. Nutr Cancer 14: 195-206, 1990.
25. Newbold PCH. Beta-carotene in the treatment of discoid lupus erythematosus. Br J Dermatol 95: 100-1, 1976.
26. Olson JA. Vitamin A. In: Present knowledge in nutrition. 7th edn. Washington DC: Intemational Life Sciences Press. p 109-119, 1996.
27. Oson JA. Provitamin A function of carotenoids. Thc conversion of B-carotene to Vitamin A. J Nutr 119: 105-108, 1989.
28. Paganini-Hill A, Chao A, Ross RK et al. Vitamin A, beta carotene and the risk of cancer. A prospective study. J Natl Cancer Inst 79: 443-448, 1987.
29. Palgi A. Association between dietary changes and morality rates; Israel 1949 to 1977; a trend-free regression model. Am J Clin Nutr 34: 1569-1583, 1981.
30. Prince MR, Frisoli JK. Beta-carotene accumulation in serum and skin. Am J Clin Nutr 1993; 57: 175-181, 1993.
31. Pryor WA. The antioxidant nutrients and disease prevention what do we know and what do we need to find out? Am J Clin Nutr 53: 391S-393S, 1991.
32. Riemersma RA, Wood DA, MacIntyre CCH, et al. Risk of angina pectoris and plasma concentrations of vitamins A, C and E and carotene. Lancet 337:1-5, 1991.
33. Romeo G. The therapeutic effect of vitamins A and E in neurosensory hearing loss. Acta Vitaminol Enzymol 7 Suppl:85-92, 1985.
34. Sahyoun NR et al. Carotenoids, vitamins C and E, and mortality in an elderly population. Am J Epidemiol 144:5:501-11, 1996.
35. Sappey C et al. Vitamin, Trace element and Peroxide status in HIV seropositive patients: Asymptomatic patients present a severe Carotene Deficiency. Clin Clim Acta 230:35-42, 1994.
36. Semba R, Graham N, Caiaffa W, et al. Increased Mortality associated with Vitamin A Deficiency during Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 infection. Arch Intern Med 153:2149-54, 1993.
37. Semba RD, Park S, Royal W, Griffin DE. Vitamin A deficiency and T-cell subpopulation in HIV-infected adults. Nutr Res 16:915-23, 1996.
38. Sommer A., West, KP. The duration of the effect of vitamin A supplementation. Am J Public Health 1997; 87: 467, 1997.
39. Salonen JT. Risk of cancer in relation to serum concentrations of selenium and vitamins A and E: matched case-control analysis of prospective data. Br Mcd J 1985, 290: 417-420, 1985.
40. Schauss AG. Beta-carotene and the incidence of lung cancer in Finnish male smokers. A critique. Q Rev Natural Med 191-195, 1994.
41. Seddon JM, Ajani UA, Sperduto RD, et al. Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration. JAMA 272:1413-20, 1994.
42. Stahelin HB, Gey KB, Eichholzer M et al. Beta-carotene and cancer prevention. The Basel Study. Am J Clin Nutr 53: 265S-269S, 1991.
43. Street DA et al. Serum antioxidants and myocardial infarction: Are low levels of carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol risk factors for myocardial infarction? Circulation 90;3:1154-61, 1994.
44. Tang AM et al. Association between Serum Vitamin A and E levels and HIV-1 disease progression. AIDS 11:613-20, 1997.
45. Underwood BA. Was the ‘anti-infective’ vitamin misnamed? Nutr Rev 52: 140-143, 1994.
46. Vitale S et al. Plasma vitamin C, E and beta carotene levels and risk of cataract. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 32:723, 1991.
47. Weisburger J. Nutritional approach to cancer prevention with emphasis on vitamins, antioxidants, and carotenoids. Am J Clin Nutr 53: S226-237, 1991.
48. Weisberger JH. Nutritional approach to cancer prevention with emphasis on vitamins, antioxidants, and carotenoids. Am J Clin Nutr 1995; 53: 226s.
49. Werler MA, Lammer EJ, Mitchell AA. Teratogenicity of high vitamin A intake. Letter. N Eng J Med 334: 1195, 1995.
50. White WS, Kim Cl, Kalkwarf HJ et al. Ultraviolet light-induced reduction in plasma carotenoid levels. Am J Clin Nutr 47: 879-883, 1988.
51. Willette W. Nutritional epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press. p 292-310, 1990.
52. Ziegler RG. Vegetables, fruits and carotenoids and the risk of cancer. Am J Clin Nutr 53: 251S-259S, 1991.

 

Sources
Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., Michael T. Murrey & Melvyn R. Werbach.