Cancer and cardiovascular disease are frequent health-care problems and the most frequent cause of death. Shortages of antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene and folic acid) have been shown to be associated with the blood vessel changes that occur in cardiovascular disease. Other information suggests that vitamins might lower a person’s chances of developing cancer. Although recent recommendations and guidelines do not encourage routine multivitamin/mineral supplementation [1-4], many people believe that taking multivitamins might reduce their chances of developing cardiovascular disease or cancer.
A recent paper from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trials has examined associations between multivitamin use and risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and mortality in postmenopausal women . The study included 161,808 participants from the WHI clinical trials (n = 68,132 in three overlapping trials of hormone therapy, dietary modification, and calcium and vitamin D supplements) or an observational study (n = 93,676). The median follow-ups were 8.0 years in the clinical study and 7.9 years in the observational study. A total of 41.5% of the participants used multivitamins. The following events have been documented: cancers of the breast (invasive), colon/rectum, endometrium, kidney, bladder, stomach, ovary and lung; cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction, stroke and venous thromboembolism); and total mortality. Multivariate-adjusted analyses revealed no association of multivitamin use with risk of any cancer, with myocardial infarction (hazard ratio (HR) 0.96; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.89–1.03), with stroke (HR 0.99; 95% CI 0.91–1.07) or with mortality (HR 1.02; 95% CI 0.97–1.07).
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