Medical News

Vitamins May Have Down Side for HIV Patients

August 29, 2003

This article is part of The Body PRO's archive. Because it contains information that may no longer be accurate, this article should only be considered a historical document.

A pilot study of two women and eight men with HIV-related lipodystrophy revealed that antioxidants appear to improve cholesterol levels and midriff weight gain, but may have a negative impact on blood sugar levels. The ten study participants took 800 IU of vitamin E and 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day, and 600 milligrams of N-acetylcysteine twice a day for 24 weeks.

After 24 weeks, body measurements showed no significant change in circumferences or skinfold thickness, except for a "modest" decrease in waist-to-hip ratio, Dr. Grace McComsey and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University reported. Their article, "Effect of Antioxidants on Glucose Metabolism and Plasma Lipids in HIV-Infected Subjects with Lipoatrophy," was published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (2003; 33;(5):605-607). Triglycerides and total and HDL ("good") cholesterol levels did not change markedly, according to the report, and there was a trend toward lower LDL ("bad") levels.

"Even with the small study sample size, we were able to show some improvement of LDL cholesterol and waist-to-hip ratio, both being very promising findings," said McComsey.

However, patients' metabolisms showed worsening insulin resistance, and fasting glucose levels increased significantly during the study. McComsey described this as "very concerning," and it "reminds us that we should always investigate vitamins/herbals supplements prior to their use in HIV-infected subjects. We should never assume that high doses of vitamins are safe. They are not safe until clinical studies prove them to be safe."

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Adapted from:
Reuters Health
08.21.03; Megan Rauscher

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.


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