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No Evidence that Supplements and Vitamins Protect Against Cancer and Heart Disease

Update Date: Nov 12, 2013 03:30 PM EST
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Vitamins and mineral supplements are advertised and sold to people of all ages. For some people, these products are a good way to increase their daily nutritional values. However, despite the popular use of vitamins and mineral supplements, a new study is reiterating that there is still no evidence that suggests that these products can protect people from cancer and heart disease. The U.S. government-backed panel is reporting that it cannot recommend people to use or avoid these products.

"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," Dr. Michael LeFevre, the co-vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) said according to FOX News. The USPSTF offers recommendations to doctors and health facilities and the agency helped fund this latest analysis.

For their analysis, the researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, OR headed by Dr. Stephen Fortmann reviewed previous studies that looked into the effects of using vitamins and minerals for cancer and heart disease prevention. The team focused on 26 studies that were published between January 2005 and January 2013. The number of participants in the studies ranged from 128 to well over 72,000. The average ages were between 22 and 77, with the majority of the people being over 50.

In this draft statement, the authors concluded that beta-carotene and vitamin E should not be taken as a preventive measure for heart disease or cancer. The researchers did not find any differences in the deaths between people who took vitamins and people who took placebo pills or nothing at all. The team also noted that there are very limited studies on vitamins and supplements other than vitamin E and beta-carotene.

"The main message is that there's not much evidence of a long term health benefit to taking most of the vitamins that people are taking," Fortmann said. "But one has to qualify that comment, because we only looked at evidence through heart disease, cancer and deaths and it's hard to show an effect on those things."

In order to prevent heart disease or cancer, people will have to do more than just sticking to their vitamin regimen. People must eat healthy, stay active, and avoid smoking and excessive drinking. The researchers also stated that their findings should not dissuade seniors from taking their vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is often recommended for seniors since they have a high change of injury. The USPSTF's draft is currently open for public comment until December 9. People can view and comment here.

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