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SUMMARY

Oxidant stress has been proposed as the initiating pathogenetic mechanism in pancreatitis, hence micronutrient antioxidant therapy has been assessed in patients with recurrent attacks and/or constant pancreatic pain. In a 20-week double-blind double-dummy crossover trial active treatment was given as two types of tablets providing daily doses of 600 μg organic selenium, 9000 IU β carotene, 0.54 g vitamin C, 270 IU vitamin E and 2 g methionine. Of 28 patients enrolled, 20 adhered to the full protocol (idiopathic chronic 8, alcoholic chronic 7, idiopathic acute 5). Six patients had an attack whilst on placebo but none whilst on active treatment (P= 0.032). Analysis of visual analogue scoresheets to compare background pain in the 10-week period before entry and during each phase of the trial, using a 10-cm scale for each of 11 best descriptors, endorsed the beneficial effect of active treatment (placebo v baseline, P= 0.073; active v baseline, P < 0.001; active v placebo, P= 0.049). The same trend emerged from analysis of pain-score diaries by conventional and time series methods. Micronutrient antioxidant therapy thus offers a new approach to the treatment of recurrent (non-gallstone) pancreatitis and/or pancreatic pain.