No Benefit Seen for Vitamin Use With Colon Cancer Chemo

Multivitamins don't appear to affect disease-free, recurrence-free or overall survival
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients with stage III colon cancer, the use of multivitamins during and after adjuvant chemotherapy is not associated with a lower recurrence rate or improved survival, according to a study published online Aug. 30 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Kimmie Ng, M.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues studied 1,038 patients with stage III colon cancer who were enrolled during 1999 to 2001 in the Cancer and Leukemia Group B trial of adjuvant chemotherapy. The patients were surveyed about their use of multivitamins during and six months following adjuvant chemotherapy, and were followed until 2009 for cancer recurrence and death.

The 49.9 percent of patients who reported taking multivitamins during chemotherapy had no significant associated benefits compared to those who didn't take multivitamins. The researchers found that use of multivitamins during chemotherapy was not significantly associated with disease-free survival, recurrence-free survival, or overall survival. In addition, no benefits were seen for use of multivitamins six months after adjuvant chemotherapy, for taking more vitamin tablets, or for longer duration of vitamin use before cancer diagnosis. The rates of grade III and higher gastrointestinal toxicity were not improved by multivitamin use.

"These results are consistent with a conference statement from the National Institutes of Health that concluded there was insufficient evidence to recommend either for or against the use of multivitamins for chronic disease prevention. Nonetheless, further research is needed to assess the utility of individual vitamins in patients with established colorectal cancer," the authors conclude.

One author disclosed receiving honoraria from several pharmaceutical companies.

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