News / Health

Jury Out on Vitamins' Use Against Heart Disease, Cancer

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2011 file photo illustration, multivitamins are poured from a bottle in Philadelphia. FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2011 file photo illustration, multivitamins are poured from a bottle in Philadelphia.
x
FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2011 file photo illustration, multivitamins are poured from a bottle in Philadelphia.
FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2011 file photo illustration, multivitamins are poured from a bottle in Philadelphia.
Reuters
— There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend that people take multivitamins or other nutritional supplements to prevent cancer or heart disease, according to a U.S. government-backed health panel.

The final recommendations, published on Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, largely mirror draft guidelines that were released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in November.
 
They do not apply to people with known vitamin deficiencies or chronic illnesses.

"Because so much money is spent and so many people think they're doing themselves good by taking multivitamins, we really do need research to find out if that is the case," said Dr. Virginia Moyer, who chairs the USPSTF.

Moyer is also the vice president for maintenance of certification and quality at the American Board of Pediatrics in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

While generally calling for more research on vitamins, the USPSTF concluded there is enough evidence that beta-carotene increases the risk of lung cancer among those who are already more likely to develop it, such as smokers.

After reviewing six trials, researchers who compiled a summary of available evidence for the panel found there were few or no harms linked to taking vitamin E, but it also did not reduce the risk of heart disease or cancer.

The new recommendations represent a call for additional research - especially research that takes into account the nuances of nutrition, said Duffy MacKay, senior vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition. The Washington-based trade association represents dietary supplement manufacturers and ingredient suppliers.

For example, MacKay said, it is difficult to compare the effectiveness of multivitamins or nutrients in trials similar to those that evaluate traditional drugs, because all people usually get some of the vitamins or nutrients through their diet.

His organization has compiled research that shows there are meaningful nutrient gaps in the general population.

"A significant portion of Americans are falling short in essential nutrients," MacKay told Reuters Health. "Most Americans will benefit from a multivitamin as an insurance policy."

Moyer said the USPSTF re-evaluates recommendations about every five years, but there are some exceptions if a topic is prioritized.

In general, she said people should be getting the vitamins and nutrients they need from their diet.

"It's probably not the individual vitamins or minerals or anything else," she said. "It's what you get from the whole of a balanced diet."

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid