Multivitamins Don't Lower Disease Risk, Study Shows

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A new report coauthored by a Boston doctor says women who take multivitamins after menopause have the same risk of cancer and heart disease as women who don't.

The study finds that while multivitamins don't prevent the diseases, they don't do any harm. Dr. JoAnn Manson of Brigham and Women's Hospital says that means women shouldn't be discouraged from taking supplements, but should still eat well-balanced diets.

"Popping a multivitamin pill will not be a magic bullet for good health," Manson says. "However, many people don't follow a healthy diet, and for those individuals multivitamins may have a role as a form of insurance."

The latest research, which appears in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed more than 161,000 women for eight years. Manson says longer-term studies have shown some cancer reduction benefits from multi-vitamin use.

This program aired on February 10, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.