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April 20, 1994

Recommendations for Antioxidants: How Much Evidence Is Enough?

JAMA. 1994;271(15):1148-1149. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510390012005

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THE STEW of data describing antioxidants' disease prevention potential is coming to a boil.

"This issue is going to get hotter before it gets resolved," says Elizabeth Yetley, PhD, acting director of the Office of Special Nutritionals at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

At issue is whether existing data are thorough enough to support the routine use of antioxidant vitamins and minerals to ward off such illnesses as cancer and cardiovascular disease that have been associated with oxidative cell damage.

Agencies including the FDA and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), which advises the US Department of Agriculture on changes in the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for nutritional intake, say such a recommendation is premature.

But last month, the Washington, DC-based Alliance for Aging Research furthered the debate. A scientific advisory panel convened by the alliance, an 8-year-old nongovernmental, nonprofit group working to advance medical research on human aging,

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