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Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Date:2/9/2009

utrition, stated, "Multivitamins, like all other dietary supplements, are meant to be used as part of an overall healthy lifestyle; they are not intended to be magic bullets that will assure the prevention of chronic diseases, like cancer... From a practical standpoint, this study does not change the fact that the majority of consumers could benefit from taking an affordable multivitamin, particularly as the majority of Americans fail to consume the recommended amounts of a variety of essential nutrients established by the Institute of Medicine."

According to background information in the study, which was published in the Feb. 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, half of Americans regularly use dietary supplements, to the tune of $20 billion a year.

Many people believe multivitamins will prevent chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Yet "convincing scientific data . . . are lacking," the researchers stated.

Two exceptions are folic acid use in women of childbearing age to prevent neural tube defects in babies, and avoiding beta carotene supplements if you're a smoker.

These researchers looked at 161,808 postmenopausal women participating in the government-sponsored Women's Health Initiative who were followed for about eight years. Some 41.5 percent of participants reported using multivitamins.

There appeared to be no association between multivitamin use and risk of breast, colorectal, endometrial, lung or ovarian cancers; cardiovascular disease; or overall death.

"There was some hint that stress vitamins, which are mostly high doses of B vitamins, may have been protective for some forms of cardiovascular disease," Wassertheil-Smoller said.

And the study does come with other caveats, Wassertheil-Smoller said.

"Most of the women in the study probably did eat a fairly decent diet, meaning we don't yet necessarily know how vitamins affect women eating poorly," sh
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