Daily Multivitamin Does Not Protect Older Men from
Taking a multivitamin
daily didn’t prevent heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death among
men 50 and older; slight reduction in cancer
Nov. 5, 2012 — For
older men - those 50 and over - taking a multivitamin a day does not
appear to prevent
heart disease . That’s the finding of researchers who presented
their late-breaking clinical trial today at the American Heart
Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012. Theirs is the first and only
large-scale, long-term clinical trial examining daily multivitamin use
and cardiovascular health. Other observational studies have netted
“Despite uncertainty regarding the long-term health
benefits of vitamins, many U.S. adults take vitamin supplements to
prevent chronic diseases or for general health and well-being,”
according to background information in the report.
Individuals who believe they are deriving benefits
from supplements may be less likely to engage in other preventive health
“Although multivitamins are used prevent vitamin
and mineral deficiency, there is a perception that multivitamins may
prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD). Observational studies have shown
inconsistent associations between regular multivitamin use and CVD, with
no long-term clinical trials of multivitamin use.”
Howard D. Sesso, Sc.D., M.P.H., lead researcher and
Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Preventive Medicine
at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass, said, “Multivitamins are
the most common supplement taken by at least one-third of all U.S.
multivitamins are typically used to prevent vitamin and mineral
deficiency, there is an unproven belief that they may have benefits on
other chronic diseases, including heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular
The results are
from the Physicians’ Health Study II, a clinical trial of 14,641 U.S.
male physicians who were aged 50 years and older. Most are Caucasian.
Half of all participants took a common multivitamin daily; the other
half took a placebo daily.
followed the physician participants for an average 11.2 years to
determine if taking the multivitamin affected the occurrence of major
“After more than
1,700 major cardiovascular disease events occurred during trial
follow-up, we found that taking a daily multivitamin did not reduce
their risk of major cardiovascular events, including heart attack,
stroke and cardiovascular death.
important to note that taking a daily multivitamin appears to be safe,
with no harm found.
“In addition, it’s
also important to consider other potential effects of long-term
multivitamin use, including a modest reduction in total cancer recently
reported in our trial,” said J. Michael Gaziano, M.D., M.P.H., chief of
the Division of Aging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and co-author of
The American Heart
Association suggests that the best way to get the right nutrients is to
eat a healthy, balanced diet that is high in fruits and vegetables,
fiber-rich whole grains, contains oily fish twice per week, is low in
saturated fat and sodium and limited in added sugars and trans fats.
It’s not certain
whether the findings would extend to younger men, women and other racial
and ethnic groups, Sesso said.
“The majority of
men in our trial appeared to have, on average, good dietary habits.” he
remains about how the long-term cardiovascular effects of daily
multivitamin use might change among people with a wider range of
nutritional status. Other healthy habits, such as smoking cessation and
increased physical activity, remain effective tools in preventing
cardiovascular disease and other outcomes.”
The full manuscript
for A Randomized Trial of a Multivitamin (MVM) in the Prevention of
Cardiovascular Disease in Men: The Physicians’ Health Study (PHS) II
is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Editorial: Multivitamins in Prevention of
In an accompanying editorial in JAMA, Eva M. Lonn,
M.D., M.Sc., of McMaster University and Hamilton General Hospital,
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, writes that “robust data from multiple trials
clearly confirm that CVD cannot be prevented or treated with vitamins.”
“Nonetheless, many people with heart disease risk
factors or previous CVD events lead sedentary lifestyles, eat processed
or fast foods, continue to smoke, and stop taking lifesaving prescribed
medications, but purchase and regularly use vitamins and other dietary
supplements, in the hope that this approach will prevent a future
myocardial infarction or stroke.
"This distraction from effective CVD prevention is
the main hazard of using vitamins and other unproven supplements. The
message needs to remain simple and focused: CVD is largely preventable,
and this can be achieved by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly,
avoiding tobacco products, and, for those with high risk factor levels
or previous CVD events, taking proven, safe, and effective medications.”
Institutes of Health funded the trial, along with an
investigator-initiated grant from BASF Corporation. Pfizer provided the
multivitamins and packaging, and DSM Nutritional Products, Inc. provided
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