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Are multivitamins a waste of money?

Updated: Thursday, January 16 2014, 12:35 PM EST

(CNN) -- More than half of all adults in the United States take some sort of multivitamin; many do so in hopes of preventing heart disease and cancer or even to aid with memory.

But an editorial published in this week's Annals of Internal Medicine says that using supplements and multivitamins to prevent chronic conditions is a waste of money.

"The (vitamin and supplement) industry is based on anecdote, people saying 'I take this, and it makes me feel better,' said Dr. Edgar Miller, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and co-author of the editorial.

"It's perpetuated. But when you put it to the test, there's no evidence of benefit in the long term. It can't prevent mortality, stroke or heart attack."
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The editorial, "Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements," is based on three studies looking at the effects of multivitamins on preventing heart attacks and cancer, as well as improving cognitive function in men older than 65. All three studies were also published in this week's Annals of Internal Medicine.

The first study was a meta-analysis of 27 studies that covered more than 450,000 participants and found that multivitamins had no beneficial effect on preventing cardiovascular disease or cancer.

In addition, taking vitamins didn't prevent mortality in any way. However, the analysis did confirm that smokers who took only beta carotene supplements increased their risk of lung cancer.

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Are multivitamins a waste of money?


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