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Vitamin Supplements Don't Prevent Cancer, Heart Disease

Vitamins and Supplements and cancer prevention

Two studies have been released that show Vitamin E and C do not prevent cardiovascular disease in men and Vitamin D and Calcium do not offer any protection against invasive breast cancer in women.

A trial on Vitamin supplements and cancer prevention, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, studied almost 15,000 middle age males. The men took Vitamin E and C or placebo (dummy pills) for 8 years.

The study showed there was no benefit from Vitamin E or Vitamin C compared to placebo in heart protection. The only difference the researchers found was a 74% increase in hemorrhagic strokes among those that took Vitamin E. Since strokes were rare, it was not a significant finding.

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“These data provide no support for the use of these supplements in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged and older men,” the study says.

The breast cancer study was reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The researchers enrolled over 36,000 women and gave half of them 1,000 mg of Calcium combined with 400IUs of Vitamin D daily. They found no difference between the users of vitamin supplements vs. placebo in the women who developed breast cancer.

Because the study used a combination of Calcium and Vitamin D (in low doses), it does not address the question of the benefit of higher doses. Other studies suggest the daily dose of Vitamin D should be between 1,000 and 2,000 IUs a day. It also did not study any benefits to premenopausal women.

Many Americans believe these vitamins have antioxidant effects that will prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaque and prevent heart attack and cancer. Vitamin supplements are a multibillion-dollar industry and large scale clinical trials such as these are important in evaluating benefits.

Despite years of being told that antioxidant vitamins are good for us, these studies show that vitamins and supplements may not be helping our health as much as we thought.