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Vitamins May Increase Women's Risk of Dying, Research Finds

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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-10-11 10:24 PM
Original message
Vitamins May Increase Women's Risk of Dying, Research Finds
Popping vitamins may do more harm than good, according to a new study that adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting some supplements may have health risks.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota examined data from more than 38,000 women taking part in the Iowa Women's Health Study, an ongoing study with women who were around age 62 at its start in 1986. The researchers collected data on the women's supplement use in 1986, 1997 and 2004.

Women who took supplements had, on average, a 2.4 percent increased risk of dying over the course of the 19-year study, compared with women who didn't take supplements, after the researchers adjusted for factors including the women's age and calorie intake.

"Our study, as well as other similar studies, have provided very little evidence that commonly used dietary supplements would help to prevent chronic diseases," said study author Jaakko Mursu, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

More at link...
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-10-11 10:33 PM
Response to Original message
1. Why am I not surprised.
I have never taken vitamins, or any supplements, and I'm the healthiest person I know.
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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-10-11 10:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. I have taken vitamins.
And I have not had flu in over a decade; and am the healthiest person I know.
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BuddhaGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 11:38 AM
Response to Reply #2
11. +1
:thumbsup:

This "study" seems suspect...I wonder who funded it?
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-11 04:35 PM
Response to Reply #2
23. I think I last had flu in 1976.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-10-11 11:01 PM
Response to Original message
3. Seems like pretty thin gruel.
They can certainly be dangerous, and I don't like multis, but there are lots that can be good for certain things, if you pick and choose.
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bengalherder Donating Member (718 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 12:00 AM
Response to Original message
4. How self-selecting were the vitamin takers?
Were they taking them because they already had (or thought they had) problems they were trying to treat?

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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 01:25 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. +1
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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 12:09 AM
Response to Original message
5. Those women would now be 87 years old. That is old enough for me. nt
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 03:32 AM
Response to Original message
7. Could it be that people took vitamins *because* of health problems?
For example, women often take vitamin D because they have, or are at risk for, osteoporosis; and that can be associated with other problems.

Or perhaps some of them used vitamins as a substitute for other medical treatments that were more necessary?

I find it hard to believe that vitamins in themselves would harm you, unless you overdosed on the few that can be poisonous such as vitamin A. Which leads to the next question: was there a check on *how much* people took of *which* vitamins?
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-11 03:15 AM
Response to Reply #7
18. I see now that they did look at specific supplements, and iron was the strongest association
Edited on Wed Oct-12-11 03:16 AM by LeftishBrit
I suspect that this is because people take iron for anaemia, or for symptoms associated with anaemia like being tired and run down; and anaemia and symptoms like tiredness can be associated with all sorts of other problems. I doubt that taking iron is harmful in itself, but of course taking it as a substitute for seeking medical treatment might be.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 07:37 AM
Response to Original message
8. Seems to make sense.
Any vitamins your body can't use - if they are water-soluable - need to be eliminated. That's an extra burden on your kidneys.

If they're fat-soluable, they can collect and we know there are toxic effects from excessive vitamin consumption.

If you eat a balanced diet, you're going to get just about every nutrient you need. But supplement makers certainly don't want you to know that. Strange how some people who distrust medicine sold for profit can think of no reason why someone would mislead to sell supplements for profit.
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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Funny, I took vitamins.
Judicially, I would add - not multivitamins. And when I had an eye exam a few years back, it was stated that my eyes looked like those of 17-year old.

Someone else I knew, who decried vitamins, now has to take them because of cancer.

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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Funny, I knew someone who watched TV and died.
Anecdotes are awesome.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 05:09 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. I know someone who cited anecdotes and died.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 06:43 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Holy crap!
I'm a goner!
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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-11 01:49 PM
Response to Reply #10
21. Funny, I drank water and it alleviated my thirst.
Funny, I ate food and it alleviated my hunger.

Funny, I exercised outside and I slept better and my Vitamin D level went up.

Funny, some people drink lots of soft drinks and get pancreatic cancer.

Funny, some people's diets cause them to get diabetes.

Jeez, intelligent people avoid anecdotes like the plague.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-11 02:53 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. Thank you for very clearly illustrating my point!
If someone drinks saltwater, does it alleviate their thirst?

What if they eat poisonous berries?

What if they exercise outside at night?

Some people drink lots of soft drinks and don't get cancer. Or diabetes.

You are so close to understanding the role of the anecdote. I hope you get it someday.
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 04:01 PM
Response to Original message
12. Correlation does not equal causation.
For example, of the 12,769 women in the study who took a daily multivitamin, 40.8 percent had died by the end of 2008, whereas 39.8 percent of the 10,161 women who hadn't taken a daily multivitamin had died.

Mursu said that the design of the study did not allow the researchers to determine if there was a specific cause for the increased mortality.

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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
13. Very misleading title and synopsis.
The original article was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and Archives of Internal Medicine, a synopsis was published in Science Daily (www.sciencedaily.com ).

Note the considerable difference in tone of the title from the alarmist and misleading one that Yahoo used: "Certain dietary supplements associated with increased risk of death in older women, study suggests." (Archives)

The Science Daily article is much more specific about which vitamins and minerals may pose a risk:

CERTAIN dietary supplements associated with increased risk....

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Celebration Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 06:19 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. iron
"The association between supplement intake and mortality risk was strongest with iron, and the authors found a dose-response relationship as increased risk of mortality was seen at progressively lower doses as women aged throughout the study."

Most multivitamin/mineral supplements contain iron.

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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-11 08:55 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. Not all.
My "adults 50+" formulation (very similar to Centrum Silver) does not contain iron. Reading labels is smart.

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Renews Donating Member (2 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-11 03:57 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. vitamins and minerals
Our bodies need vitamins and minerals, however so many have no idea how or when they should be consumed. for example Iron should always be taken with Vit C (folic Acid) as it increased absorbsion.
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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-11 01:44 PM
Response to Reply #15
20. I purposely avoid those with iron.
I read a book on the link between too much Vitamin C and iron being harmful, and thus avoided it. Everything in moderation.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-11 04:51 PM
Response to Original message
24. The difference was small and I found the study frustratingly incomplete
since it didn't differentiate between women who took a daily multiviatmin tablet and the ones who stocked up on ultra-high-potency-super-stress vitamins at a health food store and megadosed on them. Had they concentrated on the latter group, they might have found a larger difference in death rates. All "daily multivitamin" supplements are not created equal.

I really hate it when they do half a study.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-11 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. This piece gives the big picture, IMO.
Edited on Wed Oct-12-11 05:15 PM by HuckleB
Vitamins and Mortality
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/vitamins-... /

"...

Conclusion

As is typical of observational studies, the results are somewhat mixed, depending upon the details of how such studies are conducted. There are also many variables to consider which vitamins and which doses in which populations with what health conditions. There is therefore a great deal of noise in the data. I do not think we can conclude that the vitamins listed above actually increase risk of mortality. But neither can we conclude that there is any health benefit for routine supplementation. Years of research has failed to provide such evidence, and the mixed results we are seeing is consistent with there being no or only a small effect.

Based upon the totality of evidence the best current recommendation is to have a well-rounded diet with sufficient fruits and vegetables, which should be able to provide most people with all the micronutrients they require. There is no evidence to support routine supplementation. There is also reason to avoid taking megadoses of vitamins, as this can cause toxicity, and even short of toxicity the evidence becomes more compelling at higher doses of the risks of supplementation.

But there are also many situations in which targeted supplementation is evidence-based and appropriate. There is increasing evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplementation for many populations. Many elderly have borderline or low B12 levels, which correlates with dementia. Pregnant women should take prenanatal vitamins.(To give just a few examples.)

Vitamins are just like any other health care intervention they have potential risks and benefits and it is best to follow the evidence. For most people the best advice is to ask your primary health care provider which supplements, if any, you should take. Recommendations should be based upon specific health conditions and blood tests to measure levels of vitamins, so that specific deficiencies can be appropriately targeted."


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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-11 05:41 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. The conclusion was close to mine, then
It was half a study with too narrow a signal to noise ratio.
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