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The antioxidant myth: a medical fairy tale

05 August 2006
Lisa Melton
Magazine issue 2563

If popping pills to stave off the ravages of ageing sounds too good to be true, that's because it is, says Lisa Melton

CRANBERRY capsules. Green tea extract. Effervescent vitamin C. Pomegranate concentrate. Beta carotene. Selenium. Grape seed extract. High-dose vitamin E. Pine bark extract. Bee spit.

You name it, if it's an antioxidant, we'll swallow it by the bucket-load. According to some estimates around half the adults in the US take antioxidant pills daily in the belief they promote good health and stave off disease. We have become antioxidant devotees. But are they doing us any good? Evidence gathered over the past few years shows that at best, antioxidant supplements do little or nothing to benefit our health. At worst, they may even have the opposite effect, promoting the very problems they are supposed to stamp out.

It's little surprise that antioxidants have acquired a reputation as miracle health supplements. As long ago as the 1950s, scientists discovered that many diseases - including heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, cataracts, arthritis and neurodegenerative ...

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(The complete article is 2595 words long but cannot be published in full here for copyright reasons)

ANH preliminary comment:

How many times can "they" rely on limited data that applies largely to single, synthetic nutrients used in intervention trials in a manner typical of drugs? We are compiling a detailed rebuttal on Dr Lisa Melton's article which we will disseminate widely in due course.

It is interesting to note that Dr Melton would appear to be far less critical when writing about drugs.  See for example, where she describes antibiotics as