Vitamins, unnecessary supplements for most people: panel of experts | Health, Medicine and Fitness
TUESDAY, June 21, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Millions of people are consuming vitamins and supplements every day in hopes of warding off heart disease and cancer, but a new report reveals that the evidence supporting this strategy are largely lacking.
Although some research shows that a daily multivitamin may slightly reduce the risk of cancer, the overview suggests a lack of sufficient evidence to say that supplements can help prevent heart disease and cancer.
However, there is enough evidence to state that beta carotene supplements may actually increase the risk of lung cancer, especially in high-risk individuals, and may also increase the risk of dying from heart disease. What else, Vitamin E does not provide any benefit in the prevention of cancer or heart disease.
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These are the main takeaways from the new report the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent group of national experts who routinely make evidence-based recommendations about preventative health issues. This report updates the group’s 2014 position on this subject.
“It’s not a negative message, and it doesn’t mean there isn’t [cancer or heart disease prevention benefit] for vitamins and minerals,” warned task force vice-chair Dr. Michael Barry. He is Director of the Informed Medical Decisions Program at the Health Decision Sciences Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
“We called for more research with longer follow-up, as well as studies of different racial and ethnic groups, to see if there are any variations,” Barry added.
The recommendations are based on a review of 84 studies of multivitamins, supplement pairs or individual supplements, and the risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer in healthy, non-pregnant adults, published between January 2013 and February 2022.
“For the most part, vitamin and mineral supplementation did not reduce cancer or heart disease [risk]”, said Elizabeth O’Connor. She is associate director at the Kaiser Permanente Evidence-Based Practice Center in Portland, Ore. O’Connor is one of the researchers who helped analyze the studies included in the new recommendations.
Research has shown a 7% reduction in cancer risk in people taking a multivitamin, compared to those taking a dummy pill or a placebo. Yet the studies that led to this conclusion had limitations, including short follow-up. “Even if this finding was statistically significant, there are lingering questions,” O’Connor said.
It is important to note that the new recommendations do not apply to people with known or suspected nutritional deficiencies or special needs, such as people who are or could become pregnant and need folic acid.
The recommendations were published online on June 21 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Vitamin and mineral supplements are not a magic bullet for healthy Americans,” said Dr. Jenny Jia, who wrote an editorial accompanying the new study. She is a lecturer in general internal medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.
Instead of consuming vitamins, focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly and take recommended screening tests to help prevent heart disease and cancer, she said. . “Vitamins and minerals are a distraction and offer little or no benefit to healthy American adults,” Jia noted.
Dr. Mark Moyad is the Jenkins/Pokempner Director of Preventative and Alternative Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. He sees things differently, especially when it comes to daily multivitamins. “They can reduce cancer, and even if it’s a modest reduction, it’s no small feat,” said Moyad, who had no connection to the research.
“It’s not really a Wild West anymore when it comes to supplements,” he added. Many third-party groups now offer seals of approval for quality-tested brands that contain what the label says they do.
“If you’re taking supplements, look for ones with a good track record,” Moyad suggested.
Meanwhile, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, which represents the supplement industry, did not respond to requests for comment on the task force’s report.
Nutrition.gov has more information about foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
SOURCES: Michael Barry, MD, director, Informed Medical Decisions Program, Health Decision Sciences Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, and clinician, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Elizabeth O’Connor, PhD, associate director, Kaiser Permanente Evidence-Based Practice Center, Portland, Ore.; Jenny Jia, MD, instructor, general internal medicine, Feinberg Northwestern Medicine, Chicago; Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, Jenkins/Pokempner director of preventive and alternative medicine, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor; Journal of the American Medical AssociationJune 21, 2022
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