* About half of US adults take daily dietary supplements
* Same study found that vitamins did reduce risk of cancer
By Deena Beasley
LOS ANGELES, Nov 5 Taking a daily multivitamin
does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease for older
men, according to a study presented on Monday.
About half of U.S. adults take at least one daily dietary
supplement, the most popular being a multivitamin, according to
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. Physicians Health Study II monitored nearly 15,000
male doctors aged 50 and older for more than 10 years.
Participants were randomly assigned to take a multivitamin or a
"We found that after more than a decade, there is neither
benefit nor risk," in terms of cardiovascular disease, said Dr.
Howard Sesso, study author and associate epidemiologist at
Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Researchers reported last month that the same trial showed
that a daily multivitamin reduced the men's overall risk of
cancer by 8 percent.
"We still feel very comfortable with the conclusions for the
cancer findings," Dr. Sesso said. "The lack of effect for
cardiovascular disease versus cancer benefit isn't necessarily
inconsistent. There could be a difference in mechanism of
The findings were presented on Monday in Los Angeles at a
meeting of the American Heart Association and published in the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
"It is hard for us to recommend, at this point in time,
taking a multivitamin to avoid cardiovascular disease," Dr.
Sesso said, noting that patients need to discuss all
over-the-counter medicines with their doctors.
He said patients often view multivitamins as a "quick fix,"
which can lead them to let up on other efforts to improve their
"The danger of taking multivitamins is that it will lead you
to think you can forgo other lifestyle changes," such as not
smoking and maintaining a healthy diet, said Dr. Dariush
Mozaffarian, associate professor in the department of
epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health
and with a grant from BASF Corp. The multivitamins and packaging
were provided by BASF, Pfizer Inc and DSM Nutrition
"Many patients think that because they are getting an OTC
(over-the-counter) medication it is safe and the risk of
complications is low," said Dr. Elliott Antman, chairman of the
AHA Scientific Sessions Committee and professor of medicine at
Harvard Medical School. "That appears to be right, but we still
need to remind them of the need for lifestyle changes."