The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is again poised to take the position that the evidence is inconclusive for the use of most vitamin and mineral supplements to prevent heart disease and cancer in healthy adults with no nutritional deficiencies or special nutritional requirements.
In a draft statement posted online, the group handed “I” recommendations to most supplements for cardiovascular and cancer prevention, citing insufficient evidence when trying to balance their benefits and harms.
However, the evidence was enough for the USPSTF to recommend against vitamin E and beta-carotene in a D statement.
“The evidence shows there is no benefit to taking vitamin E and that beta-carotene can be harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people already at risk, such as those who smoke, and also increases the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke,” said member John Wong, MD, of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, in a press release.
Clinicians may recommend healthy diet and exercise, among other proven ways, to prevent heart disease and cancer, Wong and colleagues suggested.
Public comments on the draft statement may be submitted to the USPSTF through June 1. With these recommendations, the task force has come to the same conclusions that it did 7 years ago, despite the accumulation of newer evidence.
An updated systematic review (including 78 studies) showed that no supplement had a significant effect on cardiovascular outcomes. There were mixed data regarding vitamin D supplementation and cancer mortality.
“More evidence is needed to understand whether there is heterogeneity across specific populations, or by baseline nutrient level, in the effects of vitamin, mineral, and multivitamin supplementation on cardiovascular disease and cancer outcomes, especially in persons with no known deficiencies and low prevalence of supplement use and in diverse populations,” the authors wrote in their draft statement.
Recently, the USPSTF reiterated that it would not support routine vitamin D screening based on current evidence.
The task force separately recommended that all persons who are planning or capable of becoming pregnant should take folic acid supplements.