The Latest on Antioxidants & Health Care

How many times have we heard that antioxidants are good for us? The answer: $28 billion. That’s how much Americans spend on antioxidants each year. Now, according to a recent article by Charles Krauthammer, scientists are not so sure. Here is what Krauthammer’s article points out:

Researchers in Sweden report that antioxidants make cancers worse in mice.

Scientists already knew that antioxidants exacerbate lung cancer.

Editors of Annals in Internal Medicine conclude: “Beta-carotene, vitamin E and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful.” and “other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due to major chronic diseases.” The journal editors conclude: “Further large prevention trials are no longer justified.”

In the same article Mr. Krauthammer had some other interesting medical/health care facts to point out:

It has been long assumed that once people get access to health insurance that this will cut down on their use of one of the most expensive areas of health care, trips to the ER. In reality, researchers in Oregon found out, when uninsured people are put on Medicaid they increased their ER usage by 40 percent! The thought is that the people who were put on Medicaid still preferred the immediacy of the ER to waiting for an office appointment.

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes in the first two years.” In other words, simply getting health insurance did not improve peoples’ health.

As Krauthammer concludes in his article, the American health care system is “fabulously complex” so any changes to our system need to be made on the basis of things that are truly beneficial.

 

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