HEALTH

CRN questions conclusions of vitamin study

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Wednesday countered that a recently-updated meta-analysis in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews that claimed supplementation with vitamins A, E and beta-carotene could be hazardous to your long-term health does not debunk the body of scientific research that has shown that taking antioxidant supplements, including vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc and selenium, consistently over the long-term, can play a role in reducing the risk of chronic disease.

“Antioxidant supplements are certainly not meant to be magic bullets and should not realistically be expected to undo a lifetime of unhealthy habits,” stated Andrew Shao, vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, for CRN. “However, when used properly, in combination with eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, not smoking, etc., antioxidant supplements can play an important role in maintaining and promoting overall health.”

The authors of this meta-analysis examined the effects of antioxidant supplements on all-cause mortality, concluding with negative generalizations that discount most of the body of scientific research behind antioxidants supplements.

“The conclusions one can reach from this meta-analysis are very limited,” commented John Hathcock, CRN senior vice president of scientific and international affairs. “In fact, a variation of these results has already been published and was heavily criticized in its original version, due, in part, to the authors’ systematic exclusion of studies that didn’t support the hypothesis they were trying to prove. … With nearly 750 studies to choose from, it’s interesting that they chose to include only 67 studies—less than 9 percent of the total clinical trials on antioxidants that are available. “

Although the authors claimed to be assessing antioxidant supplements for the prevention of mortality, they excluded all studies—405 of them—that reported no deaths, CRN charged.

“It really comes down to whether or not this meta-analysis should mean anything to consumers or scientists,” Shao said. “And from a practical standpoint, it doesn’t mean much.”

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Longs debuts OTC assistance kiosk in stores

BY Doug Desjardins

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. Longs Drug has launched a new in-store merchandising program that helps shoppers find the right over-the-counter medication for the problem they need to treat.

Longs launched PHARMAssist in 140 stores this week after testing the system in a handful of stores for nearly a year. The interactive, touch-screen kiosk is located in the OTC aisle and prompts consumers to answer questions about the health problem they need to treat and provides a list of medications that best address their needs.

“Our customers are faced with a wide variety of over-the-counter product choices,” said Larry Gatta, chief marketing officer for Longs. “They want an interactive solution that recommends and finds exactly what they need. [PHARMAssist] makes it easy and that is our number one priority.”

Evincii, a California-based software company that created PHARMAssist, said an average of 15 percent to 18 percent of OTC shoppers use the system on a daily basis in Longs stores. Evincii chief executive officer Charles Koo said the company is in talks with other retailers interested in using the system in their stores.

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Abbott introduces glucose monitor with no manual coding

BY Adam Kraemer

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. Abbott today announced the availability of the FreeStyle Freedom Lite Blood Glucose Monitoring System.

The newly designed FreeStyle Freedom Lite system provides accurate, reliable results that can help improve diabetes management, according to Abbott. By combining features such as no manual coding, which eliminates one step in the testing process; the world’s smallest sample size requirement (0.3 microliter) and a large display, FreeStyle Freedom Lite system gives people with diabetes a new option to help simplify their diabetes management routine.

The FreeStyle Freedom Lite Blood Glucose Monitoring System is available with an instructional video and product brochure in both English and Spanish.

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