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PLoS One. 2013 Sep 6;8(9):e74558. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074558. eCollection 2013.

Meta-regression analyses, meta-analyses, and trial sequential analyses of the effects of supplementation with beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E singly or in different combinations on all-cause mortality: do we have evidence for lack of harm?

Author information

1
The Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group, Copenhagen Trial Unit, Centre for Clinical Intervention Research, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark ; Department of Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Medical Faculty, University of Nis, Niš, Serbia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

Evidence shows that antioxidant supplements may increase mortality. Our aims were to assess whether different doses of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E affect mortality in primary and secondary prevention randomized clinical trials with low risk of bias.

METHODS:

The present study is based on our 2012 Cochrane systematic review analyzing beneficial and harmful effects of antioxidant supplements in adults. Using random-effects meta-analyses, meta-regression analyses, and trial sequential analyses, we examined the association between beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E, and mortality according to their daily doses and doses below and above the recommended daily allowances (RDA).

RESULTS:

We included 53 randomized trials with low risk of bias (241,883 participants, aged 18 to 103 years, 44.6% women) assessing beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E. Meta-regression analysis showed that the dose of vitamin A was significantly positively associated with all-cause mortality. Beta-carotene in a dose above 9.6 mg significantly increased mortality (relative risk (RR) 1.06, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02 to 1.09, I(2) = 13%). Vitamin A in a dose above the RDA (> 800 µg) did not significantly influence mortality (RR 1.08, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.19, I(2) = 53%). Vitamin E in a dose above the RDA (> 15 mg) significantly increased mortality (RR 1.03, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.05, I(2) = 0%). Doses below the RDAs did not affect mortality, but data were sparse.

CONCLUSIONS:

Beta-carotene and vitamin E in doses higher than the RDA seem to significantly increase mortality, whereas we lack information on vitamin A. Dose of vitamin A was significantly associated with increased mortality in meta-regression. We lack information on doses below the RDA.

BACKGROUND:

All essential compounds to stay healthy cannot be synthesized in our body. Therefore, these compounds must be taken through our diet or obtained in other ways [1]. Oxidative stress has been suggested to cause a variety of diseases [2]. Therefore, it is speculated that antioxidant supplements could have a potential role in preventing diseases and death. Despite the fact that a normal diet in high-income countries may provide sufficient amounts of antioxidants [3,4], more than one third of adults regularly take antioxidant supplements [5,6].

PMID:
24040282
PMCID:
PMC3765487
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0074558
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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