KEY antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and nuts do not cut the risk of heart disease in those most vulnerable to it, according to a new study which casts doubt on previous research.
Vitamins C, E and beta carotene - which the body converts into vitamin A - have no effect on lowering the chances of heart disease or death in high-risk women, scientists said last night.
Some previous studies have linked all three to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
The new study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, involved examining data for 8,171 women over the age of 40 who took part in the women's antioxidant cardiovascular study in the US, starting in 1995 or 1996 and ending in 2005.
The women all had a history of cardiovascular disease or had three or more risk factors for developing it, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.
They were randomly split into groups and given either 500 milligrams of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) every day, 600 units of vitamin E every other day or 50 milligrams of beta carotene every other day.
The resulting analysis found that none of the antioxidants, either alone or in combination, had an effect on reducing the risk of a cardiovascular event or death.
The authors of the latest study, led by Nancy Cook, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, concluded there was no benefit in taking the antioxidants to battle heart disease but also no evidence they caused harm.
Ellen Mason, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This study adds to the stockpile of evidence suggesting that taking antioxidant supplements in order to protect your heart does not seem to work."
Source - Scotsman