Multivitamins Help Women with Aggressive Breast Cancer

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Researchers have figured out that women taking a daily multiple vitamin and mineral were 30% less likely to die if they developed invasive breast cancer. That is a stunning reduction in mortality in the face of a serious health problem, further evidence of the power of nutrition to improve health outcomes in the face of disease.

The data comes from 7,728 women aged 50–79 who were part of the very large group of women in the women’s health initiative. This group of women was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during the study and then followed for 7 years after diagnosis. About 38% of the women who developed invasive breast cancer during the study were using the supplements. The vast majority were taking the supplements before their breast-cancer diagnosis. The 30% risk reduction is impressive, especially since other variables were controlled for.

The researchers looked at many possible confounding factors including additional supplements that the women took, their smoking status, education, race/ethnicity, weight, depression, alcohol use, physical activity, age at breast cancer diagnosis, and diabetes. The association between regular use of multivitamin/mineral supplements and reduced risk of death persisted even after these factors were taken into account.

“Controlling for these other factors strengthens our confidence that the association we observed—between taking multivitamin/mineral supplements and lowering breast-cancer mortality risk among postmenopausal women with invasive breast cancer—is a real one,” said Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller.

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