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Response to the News Headlines on Antioxidants

Well, there has been quite some furore throughout the British media today on the re-release of a previously discredited study that claims certain anti-oxidants pose health risks

  • “Killer pills?” - Guardian
  • “Vitamin pills increase risk of early death” - Telegraph
  • “Vitamins 'may shorten your life” - BBC
  • “Vitamins A, C and E are 'a waste of time and may even shorten your life” - Daily Mail

Extreme headlines that are totally unjustified by the evidence, especially considering that the very controversial Cochrane Review in question eliminated hundreds of studies from their findings (648), and focused on just 67 (9%)
Crucially, of the studies they did decide to include, 21 featured healthy people, but 46 of them were people “diagnosed with a specific disease in a stable phase”, including Parkinsons, Clinical Coronary disease, Hypertension and stroke victims, (many in their 60s and 70s). There is no reference to other dietary or lifestyle factors
"Informed" commentary defending the exclusion of trials has included statements such as "400 trials were excluded because there were no deaths in them. This Cochrane review was a study of deaths, comparing deaths on antioxidant pills to deaths on placebo pills". If a study excludes those trials that show a benefit, then the results will inevitably be distorted.
An individual in their 70s with for example clinical coronary disease, (and unknown diet and lifestyle and drug interventions), is a high risk individual; arguably antioxidant interventions may have come too little too late if free radical damage and other degenerative issues have already had significant impact. It is the totality of diet and lifestyle over many years that lead to such serious health issues.  We see no evidence that the few cases of mortality in question could be directly attributed to the antioxidants given.
They also focused on extremely high dose trials; and eliminated those that included amounts of antioxidants that most nutritionists and dieticians would view as within an acceptable therapeutic range for most people choosing to supplement their diet. 
Many participants were also being given what are described as “other interventions”.
Comments on the Cochrane Review
Dr Bernadine Healey, former director of the National Institute of Health -  "Blenderizing these diverse trials into one giant 232,606-patient-strong study to come up with a seductively simple proclamation is just silly. When the researchers tallied up the mortality from the 67 trials, there was no difference based on vitamin intake. The headlines that these supplements significantly increase the risk of death by 5 percent overall came only when the researchers pulled out the 47 trials they deemed to have been the best executed. Actually, in the 21 randomized trials they peeled off, mortality was decreased by 9 percent among those taking the vitamins."
Dr Balz Frei Linus Pauling Institue "This is a flawed analysis of flawed data, and it does little to help us understand the real health effects of antioxidants, whether beneficial or otherwise,"
Where now for Your Antioxidants?
Of course a natural diet rich vegetables and moderate fruit is the first step towards ensuring your intake of the correct nutrients. But in these toxin overloaded times, and with the minerals in soil being ever depleted, taking a broad and balanced approach to supplementing the diet is a sensible choice for most people
At Seventh Wave Supplements, we supply 100% natural (NOT synthetic islolates) supplements. Our broad spectrum range provides food state nutrition, naturally packed not just with antioxidants, but an array of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes and more, all in perfect balance. These exciting products are the most effective and natural way to supplement the diet. You can find out more about the Broad Spectrum Range Here
Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases (Review). The CochraneCollaboration. BjelakovicG, NikolovaD, GluudLL, SimonettiRG, GluudC
The full text of the review can be found here

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