Vitamin E Risk Update

I got home (3/15/2005) just in time to see a newscast discussing a new study (JAMA, V 293, p 1338, 2005) that (according to the reporter) "shows" that vitamin E enhances the risk of heart disease in patients who are already at high risk (having vascular disease or diabetes mellitus). An elderly patient expressed his relief upon discovering that he had been taking a placebo. If we read the original article, we note that indeed patients taking 400 IU of vitamin E daily have an increased risk (Risk Ratio of 1.13, or 13% higher risk) for a risk of heart failure (compared to patients who took a placebo). However, the Margin of Error ranges from 1.01 to 1.26 - It is quite possible that there really is no impact (Risk Ratio = 1.00), given other uncertainties in the experiment. This agrees with previous conclusions that also indicated that there is no unequivocal evidence for an increased risk due to vitamin E use.

The conclusion we should really be drawing is that there is no indication that vitamin E is beneficial. We should not rely on supplements that have proven to be ineffective, and utilize medication with a proven track record.


Last Modification - March 15, 2005