ASMI Media Releases – 1. New Vit. E Research 2. Vit. B6 & B12 Important for Health 3. Thanks to Departing Health Secretary

1.Australian researchers challenge landmark meta-analysis of Vitamin E
29 August 2017

Australian researchers at Southern Cross University (SCU) have conducted a study1 that challenges previous research that found an increased mortality in people who took oral Vitamin E supplements.

SCU School of Health and Human Sciences researchers Christopher Oliver and Stephen Myers questioned the validity of a Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis for determining the safety of Vitamin E,2 published in 2008 and revised in 2012. By the end of 2016, the Cochrane review had been cited in scientific papers 1700 times and had received considerable media attention.

The authors of the new study have come to different conclusions from those in the original study, concluding that several methodological issues in the meta-analysis of Vitamin E safety in the 2012 Cochrane Review negate the original findings.

“Scientific enquiry should be encouraged,” ASMI Regulatory and Legal Director Steve Scarff said.

“The authors have put forward an interesting re-examination of the previous study. It is always good to go back and examine key studies, and this should be a part of the process for expanding the evidence base for all medicines,” Mr Scarff said.

“This study opens the door for further dialogue on the use of Vitamin E supplementation, and more examination is warranted.

“Given the widespread coverage of and reference to the original Cochrane review, ASMI anticipates a similar level of discussion and examination of this new research.”

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that is required for proper functioning of the human body. ASMI has previously concluded that Vitamin E is safe when used in accordance with Australian intake recommendations (7-10 mg per day for adults).3

As with all medicines, it is important that consumers follow the label instructions and consult with a healthcare professional if they have any concerns. 


  1. Oliver, Christopher & Myers, Stephen. (2017). Validity of a Cochrane Systematic Review and meta-analysis for determining the safety of vitamin E. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 17. 408. 10.1186/s12906-017-1906-x.
  2. Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Gluud LL, Simonetti RG, Gluud C. Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD007176. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007176.pub2
  3. Australian Government Dept. of Health and Aging. 2006. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand including Recommended Dietary Intakes.

2. Vitamin B6, B12 supplements important for health of many Australians
24 August 2017

ASMI today expressed its support for B vitamin supplements when used according to label directions or the recommendation of a healthcare professional.

This statement comes in response to research1 based on data from more than 77,000 older patients in the USA by epidemiologists at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC). The research suggested that the intake of high doses of B6 and B12 over a very long period of time was associated with increased lung cancer incidence in male smokers. This association was not seen in women, and people who had never smoked were excluded from the data analysis. Lead researcher Ted Brasky stressed that an increased incidence was only observed at doses well above those normally found in multivitamin supplements.

ASMI welcomes further research that contributes to building knowledge about and improving the practice of using well-known and commonly-used supplements. This month, research has been published suggesting that a form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide could prevent melanoma,2 and Australian researchers made headlines across the world with a study indicating that supplemental niacin – another form of vitamin B3 – could prevent miscarriages and birth defects.3

Also, Jennie Jackson, Lecturer in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at Glasgow Caledonian University, highlighted some of the limitations of the OSUCCC research in an article for The Conversation (UK), ‘ Vitamin B supplements linked to lung cancer – here’s why you probably don’t need to worry‘. Ms Jackson pointed to the lack of a randomised controlled trial to confirm direct cause, the accuracy of recall among subjects who were asked to remember details about their diet and supplement use (including dosage and frequency) over the previous 10 years, and the use of survey methods that had not been validated for the study population.

At least two out of three Australian adults use some form of complementary medicine.4 While ASMI recommends that consumers aim to primarily source their recommended vitamin and mineral intake from a healthy, balanced diet, supplements can also play an important role for the 52% of Australian adults who do not eat the recommended intake of fruit or the 92% who do not eat the recommended intake of vegetables each day.5

Some population groups may especially struggle to get enough B12 from foods. These include people who eat few or no animal products, those with conditions such as  pernicious anaemia, some older people, and those with reduced stomach acid.

As with any medicine, ASMI urges consumers to consider whether a vitamin supplement is appropriate, to only take the recommended amount, to follow all label directions and to seek advice from a health professional if they have any concerns. 


1. Theodore M. Brasky, Emily White, Chi-Ling Chen. Long-Term, Supplemental, One-Carbon Metabolism-Related Vitamin B Use in Relation to Lung Cancer Risk in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) Cohort. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2017.

2. Minocha R, Damian DL, Halliday GM. Melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer chemoprevention: A role for nicotinamide? Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2017;00:1-8. 

3. NAD Deficiency, Congenital Malformations, and Niacin Supplementation, N Engl J Med 2017; 377:544-552

4. National Consumer Survey 2006,National Prescribing Service.

5. Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12, ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.008. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.


3. ASMI thanks departing Health Dept Secretary Martin Bowles
23 August 2017

The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) today thanked departing Department of Health Secretary Martin Bowles for his service through a time of significant change in the Departmenand reform in health policy.

ASMI acknowledged Mr Bowles’ contribution towards helping Australians have better access to medicines.

“ASMI enjoyed a collaborative relationship with Martin since 2014,” said ASMI CEO, Deon Schoombie.

“We wish Martin well and look forward to working with his successor on key issues such as  switch, S3 advertising, incentives for research and development in the non-prescription medicines industry, and access to medicines .”

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