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February 2014

USPSTF Says Data Unclear on Vitamins for Cancer, Heart Disease

Evidence on the benefits of vitamin, mineral and multivitamin supplements for heart disease and cancer prevention is inconclusive, according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF).

According to the USPSTF, 49% of adults reported using at least one dietary supplement between 2007 and 2010. Therefore, it is important to understand their potential effects on the prevention of the conditions for which many are marketed, including heart disease and cancer.

The USPSTF reported that for healthy adults without nutritional needs beyond daily recommendations, there is insufficient evidence supporting the use of any multivitamin, individual vitamin, or individual mineral for the prevention of heart disease or cancer. However, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that vitamin E and beta-carotene do not reduce the risk of these conditions.

The USPSTF also reported that there is insufficient evidence on the potential harms of supplementation with most multivitamins, individual vitamins and minerals. However, the USPTF noted that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that supplementation with beta-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer for people who are already have an increased risk for this condition.

The USPSTF concluded that with the exception of vitamin E and beta-carotene, at this time, there is insufficient evidence to determine the overall potential benefits and harms of multivitamins, vitamins and minerals for heart disease and cancer prevention. Further research is warranted.

For more information about vitamins and minerals used for heart disease and cancer prevention, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Moyer VA. Vitamin, Mineral, and Multivitamin Supplements for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Ann Intern Med. Published online 25 February 2014 doi:10.7326/M14-0198
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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