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Possible Link Between Vitamins, Breast Cancer?

March 30, 2010

A study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that older women who use multivitamins might be more likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not use the supplements.

The research, which was the topic of a March 29 article by Reuters Health reporter Amy Norton, mentions that there is only a correlation between vitamin use and breast cancer.

The authors are quick to note that there is no proof that multivitamins cause the disease, but Norton notes that it is “biologically plausible” and the scientists are convinced that the matter “merits further investigation.”

“If the association is causal, using multivitamins would have a modest effect on breast cancer risk for any one woman,” Dr. Susanna C. Larsson, the lead researcher and professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, told Norton in an email interview.

“If you eat a healthy and varied diet, there is no need to use multivitamins,” she added.

Larsson and her colleagues interviewed over 35,000 Swedish women, ages 49 to 83, over a 10-year time span. All of the women were cancer-free at the beginning of the study, but 974 of them had developed the disease within the decade.

Those who used multivitamins were 19-percent more likely than non-users to develop cancer, though only 293 of over 9,000 vitamin users developed the ailment. In comparison, 681 of the more than 26,000 women who did not use vitamins were ultimately diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women,” as well as the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women and the second most common cancer death cause amongst white and black women. In 2006, more than 190,000 women were diagnosed with the disease, and over 40,000 females died as a result of breast cancer.

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