Antioxidants and Disease Prevention: Should We All Take Supplements?

December 31, 2006

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recentlydetermined that there is insufficient evidence (Table) toeither recommend or discourage the use of vitamin supplementsto prevent cancer or cardiovascular disease.1 The useof supplements for other purposes was not included in theanalysis.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recentlydetermined that there is insufficient evidence (Table) toeither recommend or discourage the use of vitamin supplementsto prevent cancer or cardiovascular disease.1 The useof supplements for other purposes was not included in theanalysis.Highlights of the USPSTF recommendations include:

  • There is little evidence to discourage patients from takingvitamin supplements (with the exception of β-carotene,which was associated with an increased risk of lung cancerin smokers--especially heavy smokers--in 2 randomized,controlled trials2,3).
  • Stress to patients that vitamins do not replace a healthydiet.
  • Advise patients who take vitamins to adhere to the RecommendedDietary Allowance,4 because some vitaminshave the potential for harm in higher doses.
  • Supplementation in patients with nutritional deficiencieswas not evaluated; dietary supplements may be appropriatefor these patients.

References:

REFERENCES:


1.

US Preventive Services Task Force. Routine vitamin supplementation toprevent cancer and cardiovascular disease: recommendations and rationale. AnnIntern Med. 2003;139:51-55.

2.

The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer andother cancers in male smokers. The Alpha-Tocopherol Beta Carotene CancerPrevention Study Group. N Engl J Med. 1994;330:1029-1035.

3.

Omenn GS, Goodman GE, Thornquist MD, et al. Risk factors for lung cancerand for intervention effects in CARET, the Beta-Carotene and Retinol EfficacyTrial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1996;88:1550-1559.

4.

National Research Council. Recommended Dietary Allowances, Revised 1989.Available at: http://www.usaid.gov/hum_response/crg/annex-4.htm. AccessedJuly 11, 2003.