Thursday, August 16, 2007

Vitamin C and Heart Disease: New Study

Common vitamins no help for women's hearts: study

This is the headline from a Reuters article yesterday explaining the results of an eight-year study published in the August 13, 2007 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study followed more than 8,000 women, average age 61, for about nine years. The supplementation these women took was 500mg of vitamin C daily and 600 IU of vitamin E and 50mg of beta carotene taken every other day.

According to the Reuters story, study author Nancy Cook of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston said "widespread use of these individual agents for cardiovascular protection does not appear to be warranted,"

So you are probably thinking, "hey, Rusty, all this time you have been touting vitamin C and you've been wrong." So, let us look a little deeper. First and most obvious is the low dosage. 500 mg of vitamin C a day is woefully inadequate. Studies that use dosages of vitamin C less than several grams per day should be disregarded, in my opinion, or at least considered with the understanding of the inadequacy of the dose. But most important is the interpretation of the study results.

Mike Adams of newstarget.com explains how the data from this study were misrepresented in his article Unraveling the lies about the antioxidant study on vitamins E and C . Mike says "Overall, if you look at the entire group of women followed in this study, you find that cardiovascular protective benefits were only marginal: An 11 percent reduction in the risk of combined cardiovascular disease. But that benefit is diluted by the fact that it includes all the women who neglected to actually take the vitamins! If you include only the women who complied with taking the vitamins on a regular basis, the results increase substantially and become quite significant with a 31 percent reduction in the risk of stroke and 22 percent reduction of risk in heart attacks. In other words, those women who actually took vitamins E and C experienced substantial benefits from doing so."

It does seem only fair to exclude those women from the study results that did not take the supplements. Studying the effects of the supplements was the whole point. Even with this huge distortion, "an 11 percent reduction in the risk of combined cardiovascular disease" is something the statin drug proponents can only dream of!

It is very important to look at these studies critically. I say this for ALL studies, because, unfortunately, an expected or desired outcome often plays a role in how the study is interpreted. This is a travesty of science, but nonetheless true. The story is all in the telling.

1 Comments:

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Rusty,

Great post.

I agree with you that 500 mg of vitamin C is a small dose. 600 IU or vitamin E and 50 mg of beta carotene, however, is plenty in my opinion. The demonstrated benefit against heart disease was substantial, and provides everyone with an incentive to take these supplements. We recommend the UL value of 2000 mg/day of vitamin C as a minimum.

Vitamins are not a miracle that will stop disease and aging. I know someone with heart disease who took 5000 to 10,000 mg/day of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, a B-50 B-complex vitamin, and a multivitamin on a daily basis. The vitamins, in combination with statin drugs, got blood lipids under control and the heart disease stabilized and even improved. 12 years after starting this regimen, this person needed and received bypass surgery. I'm convinced the vitamins facilitated the observed full and rapid recovery.

For long-term chronic diseases like heart disease, 500 mg/day may provide half or more of the maximum benefit achievable from this single nutrient for this single condition.

For my part, I'll keep on taking 5000 to 20,000 mg/day of vitamin C because the dose is safe, is required to fight off colds, and causes me no side effects. Even if I stopped getting colds and improved my health by only 5% vs 500 mg/day, why wouldn't I want to keep on taking 5,000 to 20,000 mg/day to get the full 100%?

 

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