Vitamins E, C ineffective in preventing heart disease

Two commonly used vitamins--E and C--apparently do nothing to stop heart disease in men, and may in fact, have negative affects according to a study by Drs. Howard Sesso and J. Michael Gaziano of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston called "The Physician's Health Study." It was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the study, just under 15,000 male doctors age 50 and older were put into four groups and given either vitamin E, vitamin C, both, or "dummy pills." Five percent of the men suffered from heart disease at the time of the study's launch in 1997.

While no difference was seen in the rates of heart attack, stroke or heart-related deaths, 39 men who took vitamin E had bleeding strokes, while 23 of those who did not take vitamin E experienced bleeding strokes. This means that those who took the vitamin had a 74 percent greater chance of suffering from a bleeding stroke.

For men who took vitamin C, it was discovered that such a practice might actually aid cancer rather than fight the disease. Barbara Howard, a nutrition scientist at MedStar Research Institute of Hyattsville, MD, talked about the study this past Sunday at an American Heart Association conference. She believes that it could help out in more ways than one.

"In these hard economic times, maybe we can save some money by not buying these supplements," she said.

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