Consistent Multivitamin Use Might Improve Breast Cancer Outcomes
Posted May 20 2011 10:42am
There has been a lot of debate in both the medical community and the popular press about the use of multivitamins for helping to reduce breast cancer risk, reducing risk for breast cancer recurrence, and improving breast cancer outcomes. This debate has arisen due to inconsistent results in the published scientific literature with some studies showing positive benefits of regularly taking multivitamins and other studies showing no significant benefits. These inconsistencies likely are due in part to differences in the multivitamins taken, study designs and more. One recent study that I discussed earlier reported that breast cancer patients taking multivitamins during their breast cancer treatment and/or during the first 6 months after breast cancer diagnosis had a lower risk for recurrence and mortality .
Another new breast cancer study examined the impact of multivitamin use at different times relative to breast cancer diagnosis on breast cancer outcomes. For this breast cancer research study, investigators enrolled over 2,200 women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer between 1997 and 2000. On average, the women in the study were enrolled in the study about 2 years after their diagnosis. The study investigators collected information from the volunteers on their multivitamin use both before and after their breast cancer diagnosis and on breast cancer outcomes. The relationship between multivitamin use and breast cancer outcomes was analyzed and showed
54% of the study volunteers reported using multivitamins before their breast cancer diagnosis, while 72% reported using multivitamins after their breast cancer diagnosis.
Compared to never using multivitamins, using multivitamins after diagnosisonly was not linked to any of the outcomes measured (recurrence, breast cancer mortality, or total mortality).
In contrast, regular use of multivitamins starting before breast cancer diagnosis and continuing after diagnosis was linked to a modest 24% reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence and a 21% reduced risk of overall mortality.
The benefits of regular use of multivitamins was observed for both women treated with radiation and women treated with radiation and chemotherapy.
Overall survival was greatest in women who took multivitamins regularly both before and after their breast cancer diagnosis and who ate more fruits and vegetables and were more physically active.
This study continues to add to the debate about the possible importance of both multivitamin use and overall healthy lifestyles for enhancing breast cancer outcomes. While this newest study did not confirm the earlier study I discussed where multivitamin use after breast cancer diagnosis improved breast cancer outcomes, this study reported that breast cancer outcomes were improved by consistent multivitamin use starting before breast cancer was ever diagnosed. Additionally, this study continues to confirm that leading an overall healthy lifestyle including plenty of exercise, consumption of plenty of fruits and vegetables, and regular use of multivitamins has the potential to reduce one's chance for breast cancer recurrence and improve survival. While there are clearly some things beyond our control when it comes to our risk for breast cancer, it is important to modify the things we can change in order to reduce our personal breast cancer risk.