Meta-analysis of Vitamins A and E, Beta Carotene and Mortality Still Flawed, Association Says

A recently republished meta-analysis of 67 randomized trials with antioxidant supplements has reported that vitamins A and E, and beta carotene may increase mortality risk by up to 16 percent.

The Natural Products Association’s Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., issued a statement regarding the report:

“The authors state that per their analysis, beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E given singly or combined with other antioxidant supplements significantly increase mortality. However, when reading the study in greater depth, it's clear that vitamin E used singly or in combination with other antioxidants had no significant effect on mortality when including all 54 trials. Vitamin A used singly or in combination with other antioxidants had no significant effect on mortality when including all 16 trials.

“Also, beta-carotene used singly or in combination with other antioxidants had no significant effect on mortality when including all 24 trials, and selenium used singly or in combination with other antioxidants significantly decreased mortality when including all 20 trials.

“So, as in previous studies by this group, there appears to be an inherent bias to tell a story that supports their agenda.”

The report, "Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases,” was originally published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)(2007, volume 297, pages 842-857) last year and attracted criticism from both inside and outside of the dietary supplements industry. The current reprint appears in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2008, issue 2, article number CD007176. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007176.

The authors admit that this report contained errors and corrections were subsequently published in JAMA (2008, volume 299, pages 765-766). "The present version of the review incorporates all these corrections," they state.

The Natural Products Association issued a statement on the report when it was originally released in 2007 -- Natural Products Association Says Medical Journal Study on Vitamins and Mortality is Flawed.

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