TWO MORE STRIKES FOR MULTIVITAMINs
There’s more disappointing news about multivitamins: Two major studies found popping the pills didn’t protect aging men’s brains or help heart attack survivors.
Millions of Americans spend billions of dollars on vitamin combinations, presumably to boost their health and fill gaps in their diets.
But while people who don’t eat enough of certain nutrients may be urged to get them in pill form, the government doesn’t recommend routine vitamin supplementation as a way to prevent chronic diseases.
The studies are the latest to test if multivitamins might go that extra step and concluded they don’t.
“Evidence is sufficient to advise against routine supplementation,” said a sharply worded editorial that accompanied the findings in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
After all, most people who buy multivitamins and other supplements are generally healthy, said journal deputy editor Dr. Cynthia Mulrow. Even junk foods often are fortified with vitamins, while the main nutrition problem in the U.S. is too much fat and calories, she added.
MORE FINDINGS OF OVERTESTING
Early-stage breast cancer patients routinely undergo diagnostic examinations they don’t need, according to a Houston study, the latest to show that overtesting lies at the heart of U.S. health care.
The study, conducted by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center researchers and presented at a breast cancer conference in San Antonio, found more than a third of Stage 1 breast cancer patients get tests, mostly imaging, that national guidelines recommend against.
“People need to know that this really is a problem,” said Dr. Carlos Barcenas, an M.D. Anderson professor of breast oncology and the study’s first author. “There is no evidence that suggests these tests improve outcomes in early-stage breast cancer patients, and they drive up cost, pose potential safety risks and cause patients’ anxiety because there are often false positives.”
The study did not investigate the reasons for such overtesting, but Barcenas and Dr. Sharon Giordano, the study’s principal investigator, cited doctors’ natural inclination to be as thorough as possible, patient demand, a fee-for-service system that rewards testing and habit.
The study comes amid a growing consensus that Americans are overtested and overtreated for cancer. In recent years, numerous advisory groups began recommending against routine screening for breast, prostate and ovarian cancers because studies show such testing doesn’t save lives.