March 24, 2011

USA: Multivitamins won’t lower risk of death from cancer or heart disease, study says

TORONTO, Ontario / The Globe & Mail / March 24, 2011

The Hot Button Blog

By Dave McGinn

Multivitamins won’t help prevent you from dying of cancer or heart disease, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at 180,000 people and found that just as many people who took multivitamins died of cancer or heart disease as did the people who did not take multivitamins.

While previous studies suggested that specific vitamins may help fend off cancer or heart disease, those studies looked at undernourished people, not healthy adults, co-author Song-Yi Park, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center in Honolulu, told Reuters.

His study looked at 82,000 men and nearly 100,000 women, who were an average of 60 years old, and followed them for 11 years, noting how many died and what killed them.

Heart disease claimed about six in 100 multivitamin users and non-users. As well, five in 100 people from both groups died of cancer.

“People need to understand that just taking these multivitamins is not sufficient to prevent disease,” Jennifer Hsiang-Ling Lin, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who did not work on the study, told Reuters.

Still, you might want to hold back from chucking your multivitamins in the trash. Dr. Park’s study couldn’t prove if there is a causal link between taking multivitamins and people’s risk for cancer or heart disease. Such a large clinical trial is currently under way, but, as Reuters reports, the results aren’t available yet.

© Copyright 2011 The Globe and Mail Inc.