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FAQ: Vitamins to Prevent Cancer, Heart Disease?

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“My personal take, in my day job as a family physician, is that nutrition is important in both cancer and heart disease prevention. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy foods, and seafood has been associated with a decrease in cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

The disease-fighting elements in a good diet are:

  • Fiber, which aids weight control and lowers heart and cancer risks
  • Antioxidants, which fight disease-causing cell damage
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, which lower blood pressure among other benefits

Talk with your doctor about vitamin use, LeFevre says. “In my practice, for example, before recommending a supplement I would want to see evidence that benefits outweigh harms."

What about task force recommendations on vitamins and supplements for other purposes?

“We have a positive recommendation for vitamin D in frail elderly patients at risk for falling. We have a negative recommendation for calcium and vitamin D in postmenopausal women at the usual dose -- 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 800 milligams of vitamin D, [because it] does not reduce fracture risk -- the outcome we looked at."

Will you revisit the issue of vitamins for heart disease and cancer prevention?

“We typically revisit an issue every 5 years. We sometimes will update a recommendation earlier if we become aware of additional studies.”

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