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Task force: Evidence doesn’t show vitamins prevent CVD, cancer

Thursday February 27, 2014
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In a final recommendation statement, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded there is not enough evidence to determine the effectiveness of taking vitamins and minerals to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer.

In a news release, the task force noted the finding applies to use of these supplements specifically for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer, not for improving or maintaining overall health.

“Cardiovascular disease and cancer have a significant health impact in America, and we all want to find ways to prevent these diseases,” Virginia Moyer, MD, MPH, task force chairwoman, said in the news release. “However, we found that there is not enough evidence to determine whether taking single or paired nutrients or a multivitamin helps to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer.”

The task force recommends against using beta carotene and vitamin E. “The evidence shows that there is no benefit to taking vitamin E and that beta carotene can be harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people who are already at increased risk for the disease,” Michael LeFevre, MD, MSPH, task force co-chairman, said in the news release.

“Due to the uncertain benefit of vitamin supplements to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, healthcare professionals should use their best judgment and consider their patient’s health history, values and preferences when having conversations about nutritional supplements,” LeFevre added.

For most people the best way to get nutrients that are essential for good health is through a balanced diet, the task force noted. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products and seafood has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The final recommendation was released after the task force posted a draft version and solicited comments.

Recommendation: www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf14/vitasupp/vitasuppfinalrs.htm


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