ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
A Winning Strategy to Beat Spring Sporting Injuries
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
CANCER
Get to Know the Pap Test
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
DIET, NUTRITION
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
The High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Debate
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Gas Cooking Might Up Your Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FITNESS
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Treat symptoms (result of disease) or diagnose systems (cause of disease)?
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Any Old Cane Won't Do
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Add your Article

Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good

MONDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- In yet another blow to the dietary supplement industry, researchers find no evidence that multivitamin use helps older women ward off heart disease and cancer, the top two killers of women, respectively.

"Women can be encouraged by the fact that these vitamins seem to do no harm, but they also seem to confer no benefit," said study co-author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, a professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. "The kind of vitamins you get from diet is quite different, because foods are very complex and have a lot of chemicals we don't know about that interact with each other. [Eating a varied diet] is not the same as distilling it into a pill. The message is to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise and maintain weight."

Other recent studies have suggested that supplement forms of vitamins B, C, D and E, along with folic acid and beta carotene, don't seem to have cancer-fighting abilities, especially in women.

And just last week, other researchers reported that many healthy U.S. children and teenagers may be popping vitamins and mineral supplements they don't need, even while children who may actually need the supplements aren't getting them.

However, all these findings, including the latest one, come with a caveat from another expert.

"There are a lot of variables associated with this study, and unless there is an actual randomized, controlled trial, we can't say anything," said Rajat Sethi, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy in Kingsville. "There have been a mixture of studies where vitamins indeed have indirectly shown benefit."

And Andrew Shao, vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, stated, "Multivitamins, like all other dietary supplements, are meant to be used as part of an overall healthy lifestyle; they are not intended to be magic bullets that will assure the prevention of chronic diseases, like cancer... From a practical standpoint, this study does not change the fact that the majority of consumers could benefit from taking an affordable multivitamin, particularly as the majority of Americans fail to consume the recommended amounts of a variety of essential nutrients established by the Institute of Medicine."

According to background information in the study, which was published in the Feb. 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, half of Americans regularly use dietary supplements, to the tune of $20 billion a year.

Many people believe multivitamins will prevent chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Yet "convincing scientific data . . . are lacking," the researchers stated.

Two exceptions are folic acid use in women of childbearing age to prevent neural tube defects in babies, and avoiding beta carotene supplements if you're a smoker.

These researchers looked at 161,808 postmenopausal women participating in the government-sponsored Women's Health Initiative who were followed for about eight years. Some 41.5 percent of participants reported using multivitamins.

There appeared to be no association between multivitamin use and risk of breast, colorectal, endometrial, lung or ovarian cancers; cardiovascular disease; or overall death.

"There was some hint that stress vitamins, which are mostly high doses of B vitamins, may have been protective for some forms of cardiovascular disease," Wassertheil-Smoller said.

And the study does come with other caveats, Wassertheil-Smoller said.

"Most of the women in the study probably did eat a fairly decent diet, meaning we don't yet necessarily know how vitamins affect women eating poorly," she said. "The other thing is we didn't measure other things about diet such as sense of energy and well-being."

Amanda Gardner

More information

Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute has more on different vitamins.



SOURCES: Rajat Sethi, Ph.D., assistant professor, pharmaceutical sciences, Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, Kingsville, Texas; Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., professor, epidemiology and population health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Andrew Shao, Ph.D., vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition; Feb. 9, 2009, Archives of Internal Medicine

Last Updated: Feb. 09, 2009

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