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Antioxidant vitamins may help transplant patients

CORVALLIS, Ore. A new clinical study just published in the medical journal Lancet suggests that people who receive heart transplants, and possibly some other types of transplants or medical procedures, may get important health benefits by taking supplements of both vitamins C and E.

Patients who received supplements of these two antioxidant vitamins had very little coronary arteriosclerosis associated with their transplants. Ordinarily, this is one of the most important limitations to the long-term survival of cardiac transplant recipients - their arteries tend to thicken and clog unusually fast after a transplant, and this disease is present in over 70 percent of recipients within three years.

The research was done by scientists in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and the Cardiovascular Division of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Oxidant stress tends to contribute to accelerated coronary arteriosclerosis following a transplant, and the body's natural antioxidant defenses are often reduced. Treatment with antioxidant vitamins appears to have significant value in addressing this problem, the study found.

"Arteriosclerosis is a health condition that's a problem for many people, but it is much more acute and occurs more rapidly in people who have had heart transplants," said Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute, and co-author on the study.

This double-blind study was done with 40 heart transplant patients. Half of them received 1000 milligrams of vitamin C and 800 international units of vitamin E each day. The others received a placebo.

After one year, the study showed that coronary arteries had significantly thickened and narrowed in the group that received a placebo, but were largely unchanged in those who received the antioxidants. The use of antioxidants did not appear to interfere with the immunosuppressive drugs the patients needed to take, or cau
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Contact: Balz Frei
balz.frei@orst.edu
541-737-5078
Oregon State University
3-Apr-2002


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