A new study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests women who develop invasive breast cancer may benefit from consuming supplements containing both multivitamins and minerals.
The study, “Multivitamin and Mineral Use and Breast Cancer Mortality in Older Women with Invasive Breast Cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative,” was conducted by researchers from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, University of Tennessee Health Science Center and several other research institutes.
The study found that the risk of women dying from invasive breast cancer was 30-percent lower among multivitamin/mineral users compared to nonusers.
The research was conducted in Bronx as part of the Women’s Health Initiative Clinical Trials and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study. The combined studies included data from 161,608 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 to79 at 40 clinical centers from 1993 to 1998.
The study focused on 7,728 participants who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer when they were enrolled in WHI and were followed for an average of seven years after their diagnosis.
Participants completed several follow-up visits and provided extensive information about their health, including if they had taken multivitamin/mineral supplements at least once a week during the prior two weeks of enrolling into WHI.
The results showed 38 percent of the 7,728 participants who developed invasive breast cancer during WHI had taken multivitamin/mineral supplements while the majority of the participants had previously taken supplements prior to their diagnosis. When comparing mortality rates, the study revealed that women with invasive breast cancer who took supplements were 30 percent less likely to die from their cancers than women with invasive breast cancer who didn’t take supplements.
“Our study offers tentative but intriguing evidence that multivitamin/mineral supplements may help older women who develop invasive breast cancer survive their disease,” said Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D, lead author of the study.
Researchers studied the factors of multivitamin/mineral users and nonusers including additional supplementation, smoking status, education, race and ethnicity, weight, depression, alcohol use, physical activity, age at diagnosis and diabetes. Researchers noted that the findings were persistent between regular use of supplements and the reduced risk of death, 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,” Wassertheil-Smoller said. “But further studies are needed to confirm whether there truly is a cause-and-effect relationship here, and our findings certainly cannot be generalized to premenopausal women diagnosed with the cancer or to other populations of women.”