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中時電子報 作者： 諶悠文 2014年1月12日 上午5:30
Vitamin Pills 'are Useless'
Vitamin pills have no health benefits and are a waste of money, a major report says today. They give no protection against diseases, including serious illnesses such as cancer, strokes or heart disease, Oxford University scientists found.
And those who take them would be better off simply spending their cash on fruit and vegetables.
Research leader Professor Rory Collins said: 'They are safe - we didn't find any hazards. But they are useless.' The findings of the first study to test the long-term effects of the three most popular types of vitamin pill will shock millions of Britons.
We spend £175million a year on supplements and pills that contain antioxidants claimed to help combat disease.
Most popular are vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene, the pigment found in carrots, tomatoes and broccoli, which the body converts into Vitamin A. Ten million Britons take these vitamins regularly.
In their groundbreaking study, the researchers tracked 20,000 people. Half were given daily doses of vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene for five years, the other half were given dummy pills.
Those taking the vitamins were just as likely to die from any cause over the period of the study, the scientists report in medical journal The Lancet.
They had no protection against a heart attack, stroke or cancer. There was also no benefit to bone or eye health.
Though it has been suggested that vitamin E might slow the decline of the brain, the researchers found no evidence of any benefit.
Rates of respiratory disease such as asthma, also thought to be helped by antioxidant vitamins, were the same in people taking the supplements and those taking dummy pills.
Those on vitamins actually had a small but definite increase in the amount of 'bad' cholesterol compared to those taking dummy pills, though this did not translate into an increased risk of ill health.
Professor Collins said: 'We continued the treatment for five years and we saw absolutely no effect on vascular disease or any cancers.
'There have been claims that vitamins might protect you against cataracts, there was no effect; that vitamins might prevent fractures by preventing osteoporosis, there was no effect.'
He said the best way to get vitamins and minerals was from a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables. 'There is no need to supplement this with vitamin pills.'
Fellow researcher Dr Jane Armitage said the doses given to the volunteers were equivalent to many over-the-counter supplements.
The patients, aged 40 to 80, were deemed at high risk of heart attack or stroke because they suffered coronary disease, artery disease or diabetes.
They received 600mg of vitamin E, 250mg of vitamin C and 20mg of beta-carotene combined in two daily capsules.
Earlier studies had suggested these vitamins could reduce the risk of various types of cancer and heart disease. But the Oxford scientists said these effects merely reflected other aspects of the diets and lifestyles of those who were taking vitamins.
Last night the Health Supplements Information Service said: 'This study was carried out across a narrow group of people who had conditions putting them at high risk of contracting heart disease, such as diabetes, and over a relatively short period of time.
'Antioxidants have widely proven benefits when taken by the general population as a supplement to a balanced diet or when a person's diet does not contain enough nutrients.
'They are not intended to be used for the treatment or prevention of serious illnesses such as heart disease or cancer.'
A recent report said sales of vitamins, minerals and supplements rose by 3 per cent between 1996 and last year, partly fuelled by endorsements from celebrities such as Madonna and Geri Halliwell.