The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Multivitamins and the risk of death

     There’s little effect, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, Washington.

    Should we be surprised?

    First, the details.

    • 77,719 adults in Washington State completed a self-administered questionnaire.

    And, the results.

    • Multivitamin use was not related to the risk of dying.
    • Vitamin C and vitamin E use were associated with small decreases in the risk of dying.
    • Taking multivitamins and using vitamin E were associated with decreased risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease.
    • In contrast, vitamin C use was not associated with the risk death due to cardiovascular causes.
    • Multivitamin and vitamin E had no measurable effect on the risk of dying from cancer.

    The bottom line?
    The authors acknowledge, “Some of the associations we observed were small and may have been due to unmeasured healthy behaviors that were more common in supplement users.”

    Relying on people to answer questionnaires accurately is problematic. However, the results are consistent with the limits of taking vitamins reported by others, as summarized here.

    Vitamins have diverse biochemical functions. They are not drugs, but “cofactors” that assist enzymes in the body to do their job. Vitamins act as hormones (vitamin D), antioxidants (vitamin E), and mediators of cell signaling and regulators of cell and tissue growth and differentiation (vitamin A). The B complex vitamins play a role in metabolism.

    Vitamins play essential roles in metabolic reactions, but asking them to prolong life or prevent cancer and heart disease might be beyond their job description.

    7/23/09 09:12 JR

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