Study: Limited evidence for multivitamins in preventing cancer or CVD

PHILADELPHIA — According to an article published in Annals of Internal Medicine Monday, a systematic review of published studies found insufficient evidence that vitamin and mineral supplements are effective for preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer or mortality from those diseases in healthy adults. 

While two studies included in the review found lower overall cancer incidence in men who took a multivitamin for over 10 years, those same studies showed no cancer protection benefit for women. “Cancer is a complex disease, and the fact that there is even some, albeit limited, evidence that a simple multivitamin could prevent cancer demonstrates promise and should give consumers added incentive to keep taking their multivitamins," advised Duffy MacKay, VP scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, in response to the article. 

The authors of the systematic review noted that trials designed to evaluate drug therapy "might not be ideally suited to evaluating nutrients." Researchers also cautioned that these results should not be overgeneralized and that more research is needed before it can be determined whether or not multivitamin supplementation is beneficial. 

"As the researchers have indicated, there is limited evidence for multivitamins in preventing cancer or cardiovascular disease; however, we believe the paucity of clinical trial evidence should not be misinterpreted as a lack of benefit for the multivitamin," cautioned MacKay. "We know for sure that multivitamins can fill nutrient gaps, and as so many people are not even reaching the recommended dietary allowances for many nutrients, that’s reason enough to add an affordable and convenient multivitamin to their diets."