Once upon a time, I respected Newsweek for reasonably accurate reporting. Now I’m not so sure!
According to Newsweek - natural antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, and various super foods can kill you.
As ‘proof’, they quote the UK-based Cochrane Collaboration study which claims there is “no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention, [and] Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin E may increase mortality.”
I suggest that since this collaborative study reviewed flawed data, their conclusions are quite likely to be flawed too!
For example, most of the studies of vitamin E they reviewed used alpha-tocopherol only. In nature, alpha-tocopherol is never found alone, but always with varying quantities of beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocopherol. Similarly, using beta-carotene alone in large quantities, without the alpha, gamma, and other carotenoids consistently found together in nature is also likely to cause problems. This also applies to any one of the forms of vitamin A (such as retinal, retinoic acid, and retinol) without the others, and without the other substances such as (whole) vitamin E always found with vitamin A in nature.
Further, Newsweek reference a British "chemist and science writer", David Bradley, He claims that "oxidizing agents," (or free radicals), are “a front-line of immune defence against pathogens and cancer cells”. This leads him to conclude: “taking antioxidant supplements ... may not necessarily be good for your health if you already have health problems,”
The Other View...
Who says “oxidizing agents are a front-line of immune defence against pathogens and cancer cells”? The scientific facts about both antioxidants and the oxidative agents they target completely contradicts Bradley's unfounded statement.
Oxidative stress damages the body's cells, and this cell damage leads to a host of chronic diseases and rapid aging. It is the antioxidants that scavenge and root out these damaging offenders and protect the body from harm. Not the other way around as Newsweek suggests.
It is bizarre to say that antioxidants are harmful to health. Countless studies have shown they boost immunity, prevent oxidative damage, protect against the negative effects of aging, and generally improve overall health.
Indeed, most health experts agree with the likes of Dr. Lester Packer, the world’s foremost antioxidant research scientist, that: "There is overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating that those of us who eat a diet rich in antioxidants and take antioxidant supplements will live longer, healthier lives."
What else does Newsweek claim? How about this for ‘creative journalism’.....
More Creative Journalism
How about this ‘interpretation’ of the researcher’s findings....“A paper to appear in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that antioxidants might impair fertility.”
Now let’s read what the researchers actually wrote: “Our experiments show that administration of broad-range scavengers of oxidative species into the ovarian bursa of mice, hormonally induced to ovulate, and significantly reduced the rate of ovulation.”
Are any of you ladies likely to inject broad-range scavengers of reactive oxygen species into your ovaries? Which broad-range scavengers? Can we directly compare “ovarian bursa of mice’ with human female ovaries?
Newsweek concludes its article with recently published research articles on relatively obscure animal uses of “antioxidants.” In one done in rats, the researchers are misquoted as writing: “It is time to re-evaluate the tumorigenic detrimental effect of ‘antioxidants’” (the Newsweek version).
What the researchers actually wrote was, “It is time to re-evaluate the tumorigenic detrimental effect of PAO [phyto-antioxidants], especially those exhibiting prooxidant bioactivity.” The researchers recognized, and apparently Newsweek could or would not, that the plant materials they researched actually functioned as pro-oxidants and antioxidants (or “redox reaction regulators.)
So much for the attempted, but failed, Newsweek “hatchet job” against “antioxidants.” Clearly, we need to be very cautious of “health advice” offered by Newsweek or any of the mainstream media
Doesn’t it also raise the question: “Why do mainstream media slander the very nutritional components that give us life, yet they remain largely silent about the many dangers caused by conventional medical treatments and pharmaceutical drugs?”
 Hsieh CL, Peng CC, et al. “Quercetin and Ferulic Acid Aggravate Renal Carcinoma in Long-Term Diabetic Victims.” J Agric Food Chem, July 29, 2010 [Epub ahead of print]
 Shkolnik K, Tadmor A, et al. “Reactive oxygen species are indispensable in ovulation.” Published online before print, January 10, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1017213108 PNAS January 10, 2011