Vitamin D, omega-3 supplements do not prevent cancer or heart disease- study

Vitamin D, omega-3 supplements do not prevent cancer or heart disease- study
Vitamin D and omega-3 supplements do not prevent cancer or heart disease, a new study finds, the latest in the years-long debate over their benefits. The trial enrolled more than 25,000 Americans of various ethnicities who were over the age of 50 and had no history of cancer, heart attack, stroke or other forms of heart disease. Participants were randomly assigned a daily dose of vitamin D, omega-3 or a placebo. After more than five years, no significant heart disease or cancer difference was seen between those taking supplements and those taking a placebo. Lead researcher Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, chief of the Division of Preventive Medincine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, said the study distinguishes itself because it is the world’s largest randomized trial of its kind. Previous research has looked at bone health or used high-risk populations, she added, but her study had the “the primary aims to look if vitamin D and omega-3 could reduce risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease” in typical people with no history of such conditions. The results of the VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL — known as VITAL — were presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2018 in Chicago and published Saturday in the New England Journal of Medicine. VITAL’s initial trial took place last year and included more than 8,000 participants. Research has suggested that the fatty acid omega-3 could prevent cancers and cardiovascular diseases, the study says, and vitamin D has been suggested to reduce cancer risks because there are fewer cancer cases in countries with high sun exposure. Such observational studies are susceptible to confounding factors for a lower cancer rate in places where there is greater sun exposure, because people who spend more time outside are most likely also engaging in other healthy habits such as exercise. “If you’re already taking one or both of these supplements, there’s no clear reason to stop. If you want to consider starting, our recommendation is to talk with your health care provider, but this does not need to be done on an urgent basis,” Manson said. The study was a large clinical randomized trial, noted Brian Power, honorary senior dietitian at University College London Hospital and lecturer in nutrition who was not involved in the research. He described it in an email as “the gold standard for evaluating effectiveness of interventions of this sort; bias and confounding are reduced.”

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