Little evidence vitamins prevent heart disease, cancer

On its website, Time reports that the “U.S. Preventive Services Task Force [USPSTF] says that for most vitamins and minerals, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the pills can lower risk of heart disease or cancer.” With regard “to beta-carotene (found in carrots and tomatoes) and vitamin E, there is no evidence that they can protect against either heart disease or cancer; in fact, beta-carotene use contributed to an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers.”

On its website, NBC News reports that an analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine was “used as the basis” for the recommendations.

CQ reports that the USPSTF “said that ‘eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood may play a role in the prevention of cancer or cardiovascular disease,’ even though no benefit has been shown for vitamins supplements in this connection.”

Reuters quotes Dr. Michael LeFevre, co-vice chair of the USPSTF, as saying, “At this point in time the science is not sufficient for us to estimate how much benefit or harm there is from taking vitamin or multivitamin supplements to prevent cancer or heart disease.”

MedPage Today reports that “the guidance” released as a draft recommendation, “applies to primary prevention in healthy adults without nutrient deficiencies, with the exception of women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, a group that ‘should take a daily supplement containing folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects.’”

The article points out that “the new proposed guidance is consistent with that from other organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which also found insufficient evidence to recommend the use of multivitamins” as a way to “prevent chronic disease.”

Enter your email to subscribe to Dr. Walt's blogs.

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Dr. Walt Larimore will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.