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PostPosted: 27 Apr 2010, 10:26 
'Lustrous Potentate
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By Rachael Myers Lowe
April 23, 2010

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Two studies released this week reach contradictory conclusions on the value of B vitamins and folic acid (or folate in its naturally occurring form) in reducing the risks of heart disease. What are doctors and their patients to make of this?

"Not much," says Dr. Steven Woloshin of Dartmouth University's Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

"One study is very weak and the conclusions can't be believed and the other's results don't add much for practitioners or their patients," Woloshin told Reuters Health.

In a nutshell, the results suggested that eating a diet high in folate and vitamin B6 was associated with reduced risk of death from heart failure in men and with reduced risk of death from stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease in women.

In the American Heart Association's journal Stroke, the researchers conclude that greater folate and vitamin B6 in the diet may be useful in preventing cardiovascular disease.

Woloshin questions the validity of such a claim, because of the study's design. The researchers can't tell from the data what factors may be responsible for the observed differences, Woloshin said: "There's nothing to hang your hat on."

"For instance, women were more likely to smoke if they ate less folate. Maybe they have other less healthy habits and that's why they are more likely to die of heart failure," Woloshin said. The data gathered in the observational study doesn't say.

A randomized controlled trial, such as the study by the other research group, is needed to make such claims, he said.

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