|Vitamin E does not help prevent heart disease, beta-carotene could worsen lung cancer
In yet another blow to the US$28 billion vitamin industry, a US task force urged against taking Vitamin E and beta-carotene to ward off heart disease or cancer.
The latest guidelines from the US Preventive Services Task Force update the 2003 edition by adding Vitamin E to beta-carotene, a supplement that was already known to be ineffective at preventing the two most fatal diseases in the US, AFP reports.
The findings are based on a systematic review of scientific studies which found that Vitamin E does not help – and that beta-carotene supplements could actually do more harm.
“Beta-carotene can be harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people who are already at increased risk for the disease,'' said Task Force co-chair Michael LeFevre.
With regard to other multivitamins, including single or paired supplements, there was not enough evidence to say whether they help or harm one's chances of suffering heart disease or cancer, the task force said.
The recommendations apply to healthy adults who have no special medical concerns.
Some populations, however, are urged to take certain vitamins.
Pregnant women are advised to take prenatal vitamins with folic acid according to their doctors' advice, and seniors at risk of falling are urged to take vitamin D for bone health.
Instead of taking supplements, the task force urged most people to simply eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and seafood.
Task Force chair Virginia Moyer said there was “not enough evidence to determine whether taking single or paired nutrients or a multi-vitamin helps to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer.''
The task force is an independent panel of medical experts from across the United States.
Its statement was published in the February 24 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.