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An updated meta-analysis examining the efficacy of antioxidant supplements in primary or secondary prevention of mortality was published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 2, in April 2008.

The authors of the meta-analysis conclude that “there is no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention of mortality and that vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin E may in fact increase mortality."

In response, the Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) has prepared the following statement:

"Healthy consumers can still feel confident that they can safely take their antioxidant supplements," said Director David Adams of the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association.

“The antioxidant meta-analysis which has been updated for publication in the latest issue of ‘The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008’ is, in essence, systematically flawed.

“The analysis focused on one broad category of study, then evaluated just 67 of the 748 studies that could be included in the review. Therefore, the paper’s conclusions are drawn on less than nine per cent of available evidence. In no way can this review be considered comprehensive.

“In fact, although the authors claim to be assessing antioxidant supplements for the prevention of mortality, they exclude all 405 studies that reported no deaths whatsoever. The conclusions also go much further than the scope of the evidence and limitations of the individual studies used. Indeed, the paper’s results focus on all-cause mortality, but the actual causes are not determined.

“Antioxidant supplements cannot be expected to undo a lifetime of unhealthy living, but combined with good lifestyle choices, can play an important role in promoting overall health and wellbeing.”


Issued on behalf of: HFMA

Issued by: Pegasus PR

Press enquiries: Stephanie Butt or Terri Foster on 01903 821550 or /


The Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) is the voice of the UK’s natural health industry and represents more than 120 manufacturers and suppliers of natural health products.

Founded in 1965, the HFMA is a not-for-profit organisation which operates long-standing codes of practice to ensure that member companies adhere to high standards and offer good quality, safe products supported by responsible, lawful information.

For further information about the HFMA, visit

Dr Michèle J Sadler, BSc PhD RPHNutr BSc Hons (1979)

Qualifications include BSc in Nutrition at Queen Elizabeth College, London University and Doctorate in Biochemistry, University of Surrey.

Dr Sadler has edited several reference works most notably as Editor-in-Chief of Encyclopaedia of Human Nutrition, (3 volumes), Academic Press, 1998

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