Vitamins Associated With Increased Risk Of Death In Older Women.
The CBS Evening News (10/10, story 8, 0:30, O’Donnell) reported, “More than half of American adults take dietary supplements.”
ABC World News (10/10, lead story, 2:40, Sawyer) added, “A major new study in an important medical journal finds in some cases the supplements either do no good or could increase the risk of dying from cancer or heart disease.”
NBC Nightly News (10/10, lead story, 2:40, Williams) reported that the study published in the Archives of Internal medicine found that “women who take supplements, including multivitamins, appear to have slightly higher death rates.” NBC chief science correspondent Robert Bazell explained, “Researchers followed more than 38,000 women average age 61 for 19 years. They found higher death rates in those taking multivitamins, vitamin B-6, folic acid, zinc, magnesium, copper and iron.”
In a follow-on analysis piece, NBC Nightly News (10/10, story 2, 1:20, Williams) discussed the story with NBC medical director Dr. Tanya Benenson, who told viewers, “I think a multivitamin for anybody is fine. … It’s when we get into excessive mega doses of things when you’re not deficient, that’s where the problem starts.” She added, “Just because a little bit is good for you doesn’t mean more is better.”
On the front of its Personal Journal section, the Wall Street Journal (10/11, D1, Dooren, Subscription Publication) points out that investigators followed some 39,000 women for approximately 19 years.
The New York Times (10/10, D6, Bakalar, Subscription Publication) reports in “Vital Signs” that “some supplements, like iron, were associated with a substantial increase in the risk of death, while others — vitamin A and vitamin D, for example — had no effect.” Overall, “multivitamin use was linked to a 2.4 percent increase in the absolute risk of death, but calcium supplements appeared to decrease the risk.”
“As in the broader population, women in the study who took supplements tended to be healthier — with lower rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, and lower body mass index — than women who didn’t,” the Los Angeles Times (10/10, Brown) reports. Still, “with the exception of the women taking calcium, they died at slightly higher rates.” The Times points out, however, that researchers “did not explore whether supplements contributed to the causes of death among the women.”
Still, USA Today (10/11, Lloyd) reports, “the study highlights concerns about the long-term use of supplements and vitamins in people who do not have severe nutritional deficiencies,” the investigators said. “An accompanying editorial notes that [the] findings ‘add to the growing evidence demonstrating that certain supplements can be harmful.'”
“A 2007 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked vitamin E, vitamin A and beta- carotene to higher death rates,” Bloomberg News (10/11, Lopatto) notes. “Another, published in the same year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, linked multivitamins to an increase in prostate cancer.”
Also covering the story are MSNBC /Reuters (10/11), the Huffington Post /AARP (10/11), HealthDay (10/11, Reinberg), MedPage Today (10/11, Neale), WebMD (10/11, Mann), Medscape (10/11, Hitt), BBC News (10/11, Roberts), and the UK’s Telegraph (10/11, Beckford).
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