-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Taking multivitamins does
not reduce colorectal cancer patients' risk of dying or, among
survivors, the likelihood that the cancer will return, a new study
Between 26 percent and 77 percent of cancer survivors in the
United States say they take multivitamins in the belief that it
will help them fight their cancer, noted the researchers at the
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
In this study, patients with stage III colon cancer (cancer in
the bowel area with some cancer cells that have spread to a few
nearby lymph nodes) were asked to complete questionnaires about
their use of multivitamins during and after post-surgery
Nearly half of the 1,038 patients who completed the first survey
said they used multivitamins while receiving chemotherapy. More
than half of the 810 cancer-free patients who completed the second
survey six months after chemotherapy said they were taking
There were no significant differences in rates of disease-free
survival, recurrence-free survival, or overall survival between
patients who took multivitamins and those who did not, said the
The researchers did find a small benefit associated with
multivitamin use, age and weight during chemotherapy. Patients 60
and younger and those who were obese experienced a small survival
benefit during chemotherapy, although taking the vitamins after it
ended did not boost survival in either group.
Researchers also found there was no downside to taking the
multivitamins: although there was no overall survival benefits,
there were no detrimental effects observed, either.
The findings were not affected by other factors such as
socioeconomic status, household income, multivitamin and individual
vitamin dosage, or consistency of multivitamin use.
The study appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the
Journal of Clinical Oncology.
"This study adds to a growing body of research that questions the purported benefit of multivitamin use, and it underscores the need to investigate the use of individual vitamins, such as vitamin D, which may, in fact, provide real benefit," study senior author Dr. Charles Fuchs, director of gastrointestinal oncology at Dana-Farber, said in a news release from the institute.
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