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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS - 11/2/09

Study finds no benefit from multivitamins

Wednesday February 11th, 2009

By Jane Collingwood

Multivitamins do not seem to reduce the risk of cancer for postmenopausal women, new results indicate.

They also don't affect risk of cardiovascular disease or death from any cause, say Dr Marian Neuhouser of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, USA, and colleagues.

Their study is based on figures from 161,808 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative between 1993 and 1998, when they were aged 50 to 79 years. Just over four in ten of the women took multivitamins.

Analyses showed no significant difference for rates of breast, colorectal, endometrial, kidney, bladder, stomach, ovary, or lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, or death between those who took multivitamins and those who did not. Results appear in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The authors write: "The motivations for supplement use vary, but common reasons include the belief that these preparations will prevent chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

"These views are often fuelled by product health claims, consumer testimonials and an industry that is largely unregulated."

The authors add that evidence supporting the benefits of supplements is still lacking. They conclude: "These results suggest that multivitamin use does not confer meaningful benefit or harm in relation to cancer or cardiovascular disease risk in postmenopausal women.

"Nutritional efforts should remain a principal focus of chronic disease prevention, but without definitive results from a randomised controlled trial, multivitamin supplements will not likely play a major role in such prevention efforts."

Co-author Dr Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller commented: "If you fall into the category of the women described here, and you have an adequate diet, there really is no reason to take a multivitamin."

Neuhouser, M. L. et al. Multivitamin Use and Risk of Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease in the Women's Health Initiative Cohorts. Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 169, February 2009, pp. 294-304.

Tags: Alternative Therapy | Cancer | North America | Nutrition & Healthy Eating | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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