Intended for healthcare professionals


Evidence exists for some advertising claims made on the internet

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 29 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1484
  1. Stephen Lawson, Administrative officer (Stephen.Lawson{at}
  1. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

    Editor--Although I agree with many of the points raised by Tröger and Meyer,1 I think they have underemphasised the evidence supporting the role of antioxidant vitamins in protecting against heart disease. This evidence has been thoroughly reviewed elsewhere, but two results bear special mention: vitamin C supplements (2 g/day) significantly improve vasodilation,2 and vitamin E supplements (400-800 IU/day) have been shown to reduce the risk of second heart attacks.3 Two papers associated the intake of 100-249 IU/day of vitamin E with a significantly reduced risk of heart disease, 4 5 but the authors advised that public policy recommendations await the conclusion of further intervention studies. Almost all papers in this field call for more research and will probably continue to do so. Meanwhile, substantial benefit with low risk may be attained by the judicious use of supplements with known safety.

    Tröger and Meyer seem to be concerned that advertising statements for nutritional products may raise false hopes in patients. Such advertising statements should, of course, be factually based, but hope is hope whether it is justified or not. Perhaps a special attempt should be made by marketers to caution patients not to substitute nutritional treatment for appropriate conventional treatment, but rather to view it as an adjunct to conventional treatment (which, in the case of heart disease, usually contains a nutritional component).


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