Health-Points: Friday 3.13.09

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People Getting Hip to Antioxidants

Good news! The word “antioxidant” seems to resonate with consumers. New research in the journal Food Quality and Preference shows people associate words such as “fiber” and “antioxidants” with healthiness and willingness to try a product. Women and old people reacted the most positively to antioxidant-rich foods and both young and older people were interested in a products disease-preventing claims, especially in the short-term; NutraIngredients reports.

Fruits and vegetables are prime sources of antioxidants. Just last month, nutrients in blueberries were found to shrink cancer tumors in lab rats and Dr. Fuhrman links plant nutrients with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

In related news, taking concentrated beta carotene, found in most multivitamins, may increase your risk of lung cancer. High-dose beta carotene supplements interfere with the absorption of cancer-fighting antioxidants. Eek!

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Beta Carotene Supplements May Increase Lung Cancer Risk

Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, a new 10-year analysis of more than 77,000 adults, men and women ages 50 to 76, revealed long term use of high-dose beta carotene supplements may heighten the risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers. Scientists used questionnaires to assess participants’ intake of dietary supplements and then tracked them for the next four years. These findings mirror a 2007 study showing vitamin C and E and folate supplements do not decrease the risk of lung cancer; ScienceDaily explains.

According to Dr. Fuhrman high-dose beta carotene supplements interfere with the absorption of antioxidants, like carotenoids and other antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. This can increase cancer-risk. That’s why Dr. Fuhrman’s formulates his vitamins without beta carotene.

But getting beta carotene from veggies is just fine! Foods like carrots, mangos and oranges, as well as leafy greens like cabbage, Bok Choy and broccoli are loaded with beta carotene and other health-protecting antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Vitamins aren’t magic pills! Previous reports show vitamins alone can’t prevent heart disease or prostate cancer, i.e. a bacon cheese burger with a side of Centrum Silver isn’t healthy.

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