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Vitamins, Minerals Don't Reduce Liver Cancer Mortality

Five-year study shows no overall benefit, but suggests possible benefit for selected patients

THURSDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Certain combinations of vitamin and mineral supplements do not reduce the overall risk of liver cancer mortality, but may benefit certain subgroups of patients, according to study findings published online Aug. 8 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Chen-Xu Qu, M.D., of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing, China, and colleagues randomly assigned 29,450 initially healthy adults to receive two or four of the following combinations: retinol and zinc; riboflavin and niacin; ascorbic acid and molybdenum; beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol and selenium; or placebo pills.

After 5.25 years, the researchers found the presence or absence of any of the four intervention factors was not associated with any statistically significant overall differences in liver cancer mortality. But they found that the retinol/zinc and riboflavin/niacin combinations reduced liver cancer mortality in subjects under age 55 (hazard ratio, 0.59) and that the ascorbic acid/molybdenum combination had a borderline significant effect in reducing liver cancer mortality in men (HR, 0.70).

The investigators also found that the beta-carotene/alpha-tocopherol/selenium combination was associated with a statistically non-significant increased risk of liver cancer mortality in drinkers and a statistically non-significant reduced risk in non-drinkers.

"These subgroup analyses need to be interpreted with caution," the authors conclude.

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