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Supplements Don't Cut Lung Cancer Risk: Study

Taking multivitamins, C, E or folate conferred no statistically significant benefit

MONDAY, May 21, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Taking multivitamins, or supplements of vitamins C and E or folate does not reduce lung cancer risk, concludes a study by researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

They analyzed data on almost 78,000 women and men, ages 50-76, in the VITamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study. The participants filled out a detailed questionnaire on their vitamin intake over the previous 10 years. Of the study participants, 393 had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

After adjusting for a number of lung cancer risk factors -- such as smoking, age or presence of other lung disease -- the researchers found no statistically significant associations between different types of vitamin supplements and lung cancer.

The findings were to be presented Monday at the American Thoracic Society's international conference in San Francisco.

The vitamin supplements/lung cancer research is part of a larger study examining supplements and other types of cancer, including breast and prostate.

"People are spending billions of dollars on supplements, and there is a general sense in the population that they prevent cancer. We need to find out if they're helpful or even harmful," researcher Dr. Chris Slatore said in a prepared statement.

A research overview published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that supplements of beta-carotene, vitamin E or vitamin A slightly increase the risk of death.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about dietary supplements.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 21, 2007
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