Vitamins, Supplements and Disease Prevention

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Story Updated: Feb 26, 2014

An extensive review of vitamin research suggests that beta-carotene and vitamin, supplements do not protect against heart disease or cancer.

The conclusion published in the Annals of Internal Medicine is at the crux of a new advisory, issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force.

The key message: do not take either supplement as a means to prevent such illnesses.

Based mostly on the experiences of people 50 and up, the current recommendations an update to a 2003 advisory only address the concerns of healthy adults without special nutritional needs.

Supplement needs among the nutritionally deficient, the chronically ill, the hospitalized, children, pregnant women or those who plan to become pregnant are not explored.

But for others who routinely take at least 1 dietary supplement, the Task Force adds a word of caution: supplements can be harmful.

For example, the review suggests that beta-carotene supplements may actually boost lung cancer risk among those already facing a higher risk including smokers and those with a history of asbestos exposure.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines with health information for your entire family.

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