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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Environmental Health Note/Benefits of Vitamin C

Air Date: Week of November 21, 2003

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Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on a new study that shows a smoker's risk of stroke can be drastically reduced by eating foods high in vitamin c

Transcript

GELLERMAN: Coming up: when a tree falls in the city, will it turn it into a chair? Have a seat. We meet the tree saver of New Jersey, but first this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.

[HEALTH NOTE THEME]

TOOMEY: Studies show that eating a diet high in fruits may reduce the risk of stroke, the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The antioxidants contained in fruit, such as vitamin C, may be responsible for that protective effect. Now, a study out of the Netherlands lends weight to the potential benefits of vitamin C.

Researchers there followed more than five thousand people over age 55 for about six and half years. The study subjects kept logs of both their diets and any vitamins or other supplements they took. The researchers found people who ate the highest amount of vitamin C – more than 133 mg each day, were 30 percent less likely to have a stroke compared to people who consumed the lowest amount of vitamin C - less than 95 mg.

This protective effect was even greater for smokers. Smokers with diets high in vitamin C were more than 70 percent less likely to have a stroke than smokers who consumed small amounts. The study also found that taking antioxidant supplements didn’t seem to protect against stroke at all. But, they add, this doesn't mean supplements aren't effective. That's because the people who took supplements may have been at greater risk for a stroke to begin with. And taking supplements is also generally a short-term habit as opposed to a daily, healthy diet.

That's this week's Health Note, I'm Diane Toomey.

GELLERMAN: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

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