| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Feb 24 (Reuters Health) - 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 (See Reuters Health story here: reut.rs/1e1ilDe.)
They do not apply to people with known vitamin deficiencies or
"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," Dr. Virginia
Moyer, who chairs the USPSTF, told Reuters Health.
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
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
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
Moyer said the USPSTF re-evaluates recommendations about
every five years, but there are some exceptions if a topic is
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
SOURCE: bit.ly/SQRXAa Annals of Internal Medicine,
online February 24, 2014.
(Reporting by Andrew M. Seaman; Editing by Genevra Pittman,
Michele Gershberg and Jonathan Oatis)