Mais Saúde

Multivitamins with minerals may benefit women with breast cancer

You might notice that here in our blog Mais Saúde, we don’t talk much about multivitamins. The reason is that, while many research studies have been done on these vitamins, the results are either contradictory, or show no benefit from multivitamins.

We have addressed specific vitamins and supplements like Vitamin D, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids here, because the research results are more consistent between the studies, so we can reach more convincing conclusions. There doesn’t seem to be such consistency or agreement on multivitamins.

But in the spirit of our mini-series on breast cancer, today we present a study that was just published in the October 2013 edition of the academic journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment that concluded that post-menopausal women who took multivitamins with minerals had a survival benefit 30% better than women not talking these vitamins.

The study, part of the extensive Woman’s Health Initiative project, studied over 160,000 women aged 50 to 79. Out of all these women, 7,728 developed invasive breast cancer during the study, and were followed for an average of seven years. During this time, the women were asked about their health habits, diet, activity, and many other factors as well as if they took multivitamins or multivitamins with minerals.

During the years of the study, the women with invasive breast cancer who were consistent users of multivitamins / minerals had a 30% greater chance of survival than the woman not taking them. Note that the women taking only multivitamins, without the minerals, did not enjoy the survival benefit.

The researchers looked at other factors that might have made a difference in the results. For example, it may have been that women taking multivitamins with minerals also took care of themselves better in other ways, and those other ways were the reason they survived better (and not the vitamin use). So the researchers used statistical methods to try to eliminate these other factors, and still found the 30% improvement in survival  based on the vitamin use.

Yet it is difficult to control all the factors involved, and the head researcher of the study, Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, concludes:

Our study offers tentative but intriguing evidence that multivitamin/mineral supplements may help older women who develop invasive breast cancer survive their disease…But further studies are needed to confirm whether there truly is a cause-and-effect relationship here….

In conclusion, a quality multivitamin with mineral supplement might well be a good idea, but if you eat a very balanced diet with lots of fiber and a variety of fish, grains, fruits, and vegetables, you might not need any supplemental vitamins at all.

Note that if you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, you should always tell your doctors all the medications you are taking, including any supplements, as these could affect your treatment.

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Multivitamins with minerals may benefit women with breast cancer was last modified: October 15th, 2013 by

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)