Dr. Howes’ Antioxidant hype update 2017

“The notion that antioxidant supplements are the potential cure for all of our maladies is pure nonsense, non-science.”

By Dr. Randolph M. Howes, MD PhD.
Times Columnist


Antioxidant hype has been with us for decades but scientific evidence has collectively demonstrated this hype to be disingenuous, or outright misleading.

For decades, I have extensively researched the subject of antioxidants. I discovered that in over 500 scientific studies, antioxidants have proven to be ineffective and frequently harmful (please check out my book on amazon.com entitled “Antioxidants Linked to Deadly Unintended Consequences”).

Overall, there is no evidence from randomized controlled trials that any specific diets or dietary supplements prevent or treat cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or strokes.  This should be expected since our very survival depends on prooxidant biochemistry, not antioxidant biochemistry.

Our bodies fight bacteria, fungi, protozoans, viruses, a wide variety of pathogens and cancer prooxidatively, and not with antioxidants. Nearly all of our energy comes from normal oxidative biochemistry.

Still, according to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of adults in the U.S. consume some kind of antioxidant product, spending $37 billion each year.

Via oxidation, our bodies keep us supplied with protective oxygen free radicals or so called reactive oxygen species (ROS). In fact, scientist Barry Halliwell says, “One per cent or more of the oxygen we consume turns into ROS. Over a year, a human body makes 1.7kg of ROS.”

Yet, some uninformed or misinformed investigators still cry out the false mantra of antioxidants.

Evidence gathered over the past few years shows that, at best, antioxidant supplements do little or nothing to benefit our health. At worst, large doses have been shown to have the opposite effect, promoting the very problems they were supposed to stamp out.

The suggestion that antioxidant supplements can prevent chronic diseases has not been proved or consistently supported by the findings of published intervention trials.

Scientific data does not justify the use of antioxidant vitamin supplements for cardiovascular disease (CVD, heart disease) risk reduction.

This position is consistent with recommendations that have been made by the American Heart Association (AHA) in 2004 for the prevention of CVD in women as well as by the American College of Cardiology and AHA in 2002 for patients with chronic stable angina.

No consistent data suggest that consuming micronutrients (including antioxidant supplements) at levels exceeding those provided by a dietary pattern consistent with AHA Dietary Guidelines will confer additional benefit with regard to CVD risk reduction.

Large clinical trials with antioxidants failed to demonstrate any benefit for diabetic patients.

In the America that I love, we must follow the scientific data to find the truth. We should stop wasting our hard-earned money on mythology and hype, all in the name of profit.

The notion that antioxidant supplements are the potential cure for all of our maladies is pure nonsense, non-science.