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VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS COULD CUT BILLIONS IN HEALTH CARE COSTS

 WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. health care system could save $8.7 billion annually from reduced hospitalizations resulting from five major diseases if Americans consumed optimal levels of the antioxidant vitamins C and E and beta-carotene. The $8.7 billion figures implies a five-year savings of more than $43.5 billion.
 These numbers were part of an economic analysis released today at the Council for Responsible Nutrition's 20th anniversary annual conference in Washington, D.C.
 The study by Pracon, Inc., a Reston, Va. economic analysis firm, concluded:
 -- For coronary heart disease-related hospitalizations, vitamin E supplements have the potential to save $1.5 billion for Medicare, and $7.7 billion for the United States annually;
 -- For breast, lung and stomach cancer hospitalization avoidances, diets optimal in antioxidant vitamins, C and E and beta-carotene may yield $196.4 million in savings for the Medicare program, and $1 billion or more in savings for the entire United States annually.
 -- By preventing 50 percent of cataract hospitalizations, optimal intake of vitamins C and E and beta-carotene may save $7.1 million for the Medicare program, and $49.3 million for the United States annually.
 -- In addition to hospitalization savings, of the estimated $108.9 billion in total health care expenditures for coronary heart disease, optimal intake of vitamin E of between 100-400 IU may save $27.2 billion annually.
 "These figures represent only one portion of the potential savings since hospitalizations represent only a piece of the total medical costs of the disease studied," said Steven Pashko, Ph.D., Pracon senior director and project leader on the study.
 The Pracon study, which was commissioned by CRN, estimated national costs from Medicare and select state hospital records for cardiovascular disease, cataracts, breast, lung and stomach cancers.
 Then, using data published in scientific literature, the study estimated how many cases of each disease might be prevented if all Americans consumed optimal levels of the antioxidant vitamins C and E and beta-carotene.
 The Pracon study used, for example, information reported in two studies of health professionals from Harvard Medical School on the role of vitamin E in preventing heart attacks. The studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
 Most people find it difficult to get protective levels of some antioxidant vitamins from diet alone. The National Cancer Institute recommends eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to help prevent cancer. A 1990 analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II) showed that less than 10 percent of Americans actually consumed two servings of fruits and three of vegetables a day.
 Another analysis of NHANES II data showed that on any given day 50 percent of Americans ate no vegetables, 70 percent ate no fruit or vegetable rich in vitamin C and 80 percent ate no fruit or vegetable rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene.
 "The science supporting the role of supplements in improving health is becoming stronger every year," said Annette Dickinson, CRN's technical director. "We now have compelling data showing that vitamin supplements can not only improve health but save our country billions of dollars."
 "We need to reorient our health care system to focus on prevention," said Alexander Leaf, emeritus professor of clinical medicine at Harvard Medical School. Leaf had earlier addressed the CRN annual conference on the need to change the American medical approach from treatment to prevention.
 "The analysis demonstrates why prevention is needed," Leaf added. "This data will be terribly important for the long term."
 U.S. HOSPITALIZATION EXPENDITURES
 Total Percentage Estimated Estimated
 Expenditures Preventable Medicare Total
 ($ Mil) From Increased Cost Savings
 Antioxidants Savings ($ Mil)
 (C, E, Beta-carotene) ($ Mil)
 Cancer
 Breast $1,088.3 16 pct. $ 27.4 $174.1
 Lung 3,263.7 21 pct. 125.4 685.4
 Stomach 538.0 30 pct. 43.6 161.4
 Cardiovascular
 disease 30,823.7 25 pct. 1,500.0 7,705.9
 Cataracts 98.5 50 pct. 7.1 49.3
 Total $35,812.3 $1,676.6 $ 8,776.1 annual
 -0- 9/22/93
 /CONTACT: Mary Burnette of Council for Responsible Nutrition, 202-872-1488/


CO: Council for Responsible Nutrition ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:

TM -- NY100 -- 4970 09/22/93 21:35 EDT
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Date:Sep 22, 1993
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