Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Panel says vitamins don't reduce risk of cancer or heart disease

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If you are taking vitamin supplements to reduce your risk of heart disease or cancer, a government panel of experts says you're likely wasting your money. In some cases, those vitamins may increase your risk of cancer.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced this last week after reviewing dozens of studies, including many randomized trials, which are the gold standard for research.

Nearly half of U.S. adults take at least one vitamin or mineral supplement regularly, including the 32 percent of adults who take a multivitamin-multimineral. These pills are touted as a way to promote general health. Some manufacturers promote them as cancer fighters and heart protectors.

But the task force found "inadequate evidence" to support the claims that vitamin and mineral supplements benefit healthy adults. Multivitamins, individual vitamins, and minerals, and specifically beta-carotene and vitamin E, all failed to show they could reduce the risk of heart disease or cancer in people with no nutritional deficiencies.

The task force did find "adequate evidence" that people with a higher risk for lung cancer - including smokers and people exposed to asbestos at work - raise their risk further by taking beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A.

The recommendations apply to healthy adults age 50 and older without "special nutritional needs." The advice does not apply to children, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, and people with chronic illnesses, among others. - L.A. Times

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