Antioxidant study ignores scientific evidence

TORONTO, ON – February 28, 2007 – A meta-analysis undermining the benefits of antioxidant supplements in a new study published in the February 28, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association ignores the large body of scientific evidence supporting the benefits of antioxidants, says the Canadian Health Food Association, a national trade association representing Canada’s natural products industry.

“A growing number of evidence-based studies continue to show the health benefits of antioxidants and cannot be discounted. They need to be considered when drawing conclusions from this meta-analysis,” says Anne Wilkie, Vice-President and Head of Regulatory Affairs, Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA.)

“The study only serves to confuse healthy consumers who may take antioxidants,” she says.

The researchers themselves acknowledge their analysis of previous studies has several limitations, including combining studies where participants were vastly different from each other (healthy versus diseased populations); where dosages used varied significantly; where the length of time of taking the supplements and the follow-up differed among the trials, and the use of varying definitions of “all-cause” mortality in the trials. Meta analyses are valuable tools when the included studies are similar in design and study populations.

“Healthy consumers should continue to rely on antioxidant supplements for the benefits they confer,” says Wilkie. “This meta analysis does not provide convincing scientific evidence that antioxidant supplements do not provide potential health benefits.”

The CHFA reminds consumers that Health Canada has established monographs with dose information and indications for the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C and has not reported any risks in the use of these supplements. In fact, the federal government introduced the Natural Health Products Regulations in 2004 to ensure natural health products, such as vitamins, sold in Canada were safe, had evidence to support their claims and contained what was on the label.


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