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Increased vitamin intakes may support the health of breast cancer patients

November 11, 2013

A new US study reports that older women with invasive breast cancer who take multivitamin/mineral supplements long-term may be less likely to die from their cancers.

In the observational study, the lifestyles of 7,728 postmenopausal women (aged 50 to 79) who developed invasive breast cancer were analyzed and disease-related death cases were documented during an average of seven years after their diagnosis (1). The analyses showed that participants who regularly took multivita- min/mineral supplements were 30% less likely to die from their cancers than patients who had not taken supplements. This association persisted after taking into account possible confounding factors such as smok- ing, education, race/ethnicity, weight, depression, alcohol use, physical activity, age at breast cancer dia- gnosis and diabetes.

The researchers commented that further studies are needed to confirm whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship. The findings cannot be generalized to premenopausal women diagnosed with invasive cancer (defined as cancer that has spread outside the membrane of the milk glands or ducts and into the breast tissue) or to other populations of women. Multivitamin/mineral supplements are the most commonly consum- ed dietary supplements among US adults. They usually contain 20–30 vitamins and minerals, often at levels of 100% of US Recommended Dietary Allowances or less. The usual label recommendation is to take them daily.

References

  1. Wassertheil-Smoller S. et al. Multivitamin and mineral use and breast cancer mortality in older women with invasive breast cancer in the women’s health initiative. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. Published online October 2013.