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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Aug;32(3):356-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2010.04371.x. Epub 2010 May 22.

Meta-analysis: antioxidant supplements for liver diseases - the Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group.

Author information

1
Centre for Clinical Intervention Research, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Denmark. goranb@junis.ni.ac.rs

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Several liver diseases have been associated with oxidative stress. Accordingly, antioxidants have been suggested as potential therapeutics for various liver diseases. The evidence supporting these suggestions is equivocal.

AIM:

To assess the benefits and harms of antioxidant supplements for patients with liver diseases.

METHODS:

We identified trials through electronic and manual searches until August 2009. We included randomized trials comparing antioxidant supplements (beta-carotene, vitamin A, C, E and selenium) vs. placebo or no intervention for autoimmune liver diseases, viral hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis (any aetiology). Random-effects and fixed-effect meta-analyses were conducted. Results were presented as relative risks (RR), or mean difference (MD), both with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

RESULTS:

Twenty randomized trials with 1225 participants were included. The trials assessed beta-carotene (3 trials), vitamin A (2 trials), vitamin C (9 trials), vitamin E (15 trials) and selenium (8 trials). The majority of the trials had high risk of bias and showed heterogeneity. Overall, the assessed antioxidant supplements had no significant effect on all-cause mortality [relative risk (RR) 0.84, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.60-1.19, I(2) = 0%] or liver-related mortality (RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.39-2.05, I(2) = 37%). Stratification according to the type of liver disease assessed did not affect the conclusions. Antioxidant supplements significantly increased the activity of gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (MD 24.21 IU/L, 95% CI 6.67-41.75, I(2) = 0%).

CONCLUSIONS:

We found no evidence to support or refute antioxidant supplements in patients with liver disease. Antioxidant supplements may increase liver enzymes.

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