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N-acetylcysteine and HIV
Aug 25, 2002

I saw an article on the web that claim that NAC n-acetylcysteine has antiviral activity against HIV. Do you think there is any benefit to taking nac acetylcysteine antioxidant aminoacid supplements for the greatment of HIV...thanks...

Response from Dr. Cohen

Sadly there is little good info in the world of science and research to show that NAC helps. There is some rationale why it should help - and in fact there have been studies of variable quality over the past decade to test this. Antioxidant support for cells is reasonable... and there is info to support why NAC should be helpful. But in the studies that were done there have been a few problems. First is that it is not clear how much NAC people can absorb - one study showed this problem a decade ago. Second is that studies showing benefit always had some key flaw in the study itself - like high numbers of people who were lost and not monitored over time, making the conclusions suspect since they tend to report only the "good news" and not those with less satisfying outcomes. Finally there has not been much research in recent years - certainly not at recent meetings. And this too speaks to a lack of confidence in the results of earlier studies since in general, if there is some hint of substantive proof of benefit, there is some follow up to show it over and over in different ways.

Be wary of course of Web Postings - since anyone can post anything and make it sound quite real even if behind the scenes there ain't much there...

Perhaps this will lead to a flurry of responses of why NAC is of benefit - we shall see what comes in. And I am still interested in anything that works. But it has to be real in order to be worth the energy and resources to recommmend it... so let's see what comes in.

Hope that helps.

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