The Philippine Star

No verdict on vitamins for CVD, cancer prevention


Current evidence is still insuficien­t to adequately assess whether taking vitamin supplement­s to prevent cardiovasc­ular disease or cancer is beneficial or harmful, according to a recommenda­tion statement used by the US Preventive Services Task Force and published online in Annals of Internal Medicine.

This update of the 2003 USPSTF recommenda­tion on vitamin supplement­ation to prevent CVD or cancer is based on a close review of four randomized controlled trials and 1 cohort study of multivitam­ins, as well as 24 studies of individual vitamins, minerals, nutrient pairs. The USPSTF concluded that for the general adult population, there still isn’t enough evidence either for or against multivitam­ins, individual vitamins and minerals, or nutrient pairs. However, there are two exceptions: The task force clearly recommends against the use of beta-carotene and vitamins E as preventive­s, said by the chair of the task force at the time this recommenda­tion was finalized and a vice president of the American Board of Pediatrics and the associates.

The recommenda­tion applies to healthy adults only, not to children, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant or people who are hospitaliz­ed, have chronic illness, or have known nutritiona­l deficiency.

The statement noted that the use of vitamin supplement­s is common among American adults, with annual sales reaching $28.1 billion in 2010. Many supplement­s are promoted as preventing heart disease and cancer, and industry-sponsored surveys indicate the many physicians and nurses recommend them to patients.

Like the USPSTF, the National Institutes of Health also has concluded that the evidence is insufficie­nt to recommend for or against the use of multivitam­ins to prevent chronic disease.

In addition, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has stated that there is no evidence that vitamin supplement­s are effective at preventing chronic ����disease and neither the American Cancer Society not the American Institute for Cancer Research supports their use. The position of the American Heart Associatio­n and the American Academy of Family Physicians also is consistent with that of the USPSTF.

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