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Vitamin B, Folate Supplements Won't Help Heart
Date:8/19/2008

In fact, new study hints they might be hazardous

TUESDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A study to determine whether folic acid and vitamin B supplements help the heart has been cut short, because the pills weren't doing any good and might have even caused participants harm.

"This confirms what a lot of recent studies have found -- no benefit of taking vitamin B supplements to reduce the risk of heart disease, and it raises a few red flags," said Alice H. Lichtenstein, Gershoff professor of nutrition at Tufts University, Boston.

In the new study, reported in the Aug. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, physicians at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway, enrolled almost 3,100 volunteers. Three-quarters of them took various doses of vitamin B and folic acid (which is chemically a B vitamin), while the others got a placebo, an inactive substance.

The study was ended early, after an average follow-up of 38 months, because "we could not detect any preventive effect of intervention with folic acid plus vitamin B12 or with vitamin B6 on mortality or major cardiovascular events," the researchers reported.

They did find a slight reduction of stroke, but also a slight increase of cancer in those taking folic acid, but neither of these results reached statistical significance. The study was ended, because another Norwegian study of folic acid and vitamin B supplementation has also hinted at an increased incidence of cancer among users.

But the real bottom line here, according to Lichtenstein, is that "there is no evidence that individuals should take B vitamins to decrease the risk of heart disease, and there may be some evidence that they shouldn't."

The trials were initiated, because observational studies did link high blood levels of a protein called homocysteine with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In the new study, homocysteine levels
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