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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid