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A study of more than 3,000 volunteers has found no evidence that B vitamins can help save the lives of heart disease patients.
The research, which was carried out at two hospitals in Norway, found that patients taking the vitamin supplements were no less likely to die than those given placebo treatment.
Previous evidence had indicated that B vitamins lower blood levels of homocysteine, a harmful amino acid linked to heart disease and stroke.
The new study found that taking folic acid and vitamin B12 did reduce homocysteine concentrations in the body by 30%, but this was not translated into any clinical benefit. The vitamins also had no significant effect on non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, or hospitalisations for angina.
The trial was stopped early after six years because of concerns over reports from another study that B vitamin treatment might increase the risk of cancer.
Lead researcher Dr Marta Ebbing, from Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway, wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association: “Our findings do not support the use of B vitamins as secondary prevention in patients with coronary artery disease.”
The research was criticised by vitamin manufacturers’ representatives, who said that B vitamins were not intended to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease.
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