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Study shows high-dose vitamin E supplements may increase risk of dying

Researchers at Johns Hopkins report that use of high-dose vitamin E supplements, in excess of 400 IU (international units), is associated with a higher overall risk of dying. These results should be of concern to the millions of Americans who take vitamin E supplements for perceived health benefits.

The Hopkins team is scheduled to present their findings at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2004 in New Orleans, La., with simultaneous publication of their study in the Annals of Internal Medicine online Nov. 10.

The study results showed that people taking vitamin E supplements of 400 IU or more per day had an increased risk of death.

"Our study results do not support the use of high-dose vitamin E supplements. If people are taking a multivitamin, they should make sure it contains no more than a low dose of vitamin E," said study lead author and internist Edgar R. Miller III, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "A lot of people take vitamins because they believe it will benefit their health in the long term and prolong life. But our study shows that use of high-dose vitamin E supplements certainly did not prolong life, but was associated with a higher risk of death."

Vitamin E capsules, used as supplements, typically contain 400 IU to 800 IU. The study results indicated that these high-dose supplements were associated with a higher risk of death.

In the current study, the Hopkins team re-analyzed raw data from 19 major clinical trials, sorting information by whether high- or low-dose levels of vitamin E were taken. Nine of these studies tested vitamin E alone; 10 tested its use in combination with other vitamins.

The 19 studies took place between 1993 and 2004 and involved more than 136,000 patients in North America, Europe and China. All of the studies involved use of a control group taking a dummy pill, or placebo. Risk of
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10-Nov-2004


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