The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended against the use of beta carotene or vitamin E supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or cancer, according to a statement published in JAMA.
The USPSTF also concluded that current evidence is insufficient to make a recommendation about the use of multivitamin supplements and single- or paired-nutrient supplements (other than beta carotene and vitamin E) for the prevention of CVD or cancer.
To update its prior recommendation from 2014, the USPSTF reviewed evidence on the efficacy of supplementation with single nutrients, functionally related nutrient pairs, or multivitamins for reducing the risk of CVD, cancer, and mortality in the general adult population. The USPSTF also assessed potential harms of supplementation.
Vitamin E Findings
The USPSTF analyzed data from 9 randomized clinical trials on health outcomes associated with vitamin E supplementation.
A pooled analysis suggested that vitamin E supplements provide no benefit with regard to all-cause mortality after 3 years to 10 years of follow-up. Similarly, there was no benefit with regard to CVD events, CVD mortality, cancer incidence, or cancer mortality.
This led the USPSTF to conclude “with moderate certainty” that there is no net benefit to vitamin E supplementation for the prevention of CVD or cancer.
Beta Carotene Findings
The USPSTF evaluated data from 6 randomized clinical trials reporting on health outcomes with beta carotene supplementation, including 1 trial in which patients received vitamin A supplementation as well.
A pooled analysis showed a non-significant increased risk for all-cause mortality associated with beta carotene use at 4 years to 12 years of follow-up. A pooled analysis of 5 studies showed a significantly increased risk of CVD mortality as well.
The researchers analyzed 2 studies of patients who smoked or were exposed to asbestos in the workplace. This revealed a significantly increased risk of lung cancer among patients taking beta carotene supplements alone and among patients taking both beta carotene and vitamin A supplements.
Based on these results, the USPSTF concluded “with moderate certainty” that the harms of beta carotene outweigh the benefits for the prevention of CVD or cancer.
The USPSTF noted that more studies are needed to provide information on the effects of vitamin, mineral, and multivitamin supplementation on CVD and cancer outcomes. In particular, more long-term studies are needed to determine whether vitamin D supplementation has an effect on cancer mortality.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Vitamin, mineral, and multivitamin supplementation to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. Published online June 21, 2022. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.8970