Multivitamins Don’t Improve Colon Cancer Outcomes

Posted on September 22nd, 2010 by

In a study of patients with Stage III colon cancer, use of multivitamins during and after chemotherapy did not improve survival or reduce the risk of recurrence. These results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Stage III colon cancer refers to cancer that has spread to lymph nodes surrounding the colon but not to other parts of the body. Treatment of Stage III colon cancer often involves surgery followed by adjuvant chemotherapy.

Dietary supplements such as multivitamins are widely used by the U.S. population. Roughly 30% of people use multivitamins in the hope of preventing or treating common chronic diseases such as cancer. The effects of multivitamins on health, however, remain uncertain.

To explore whether multivitamin use during or after adjuvant chemotherapy improves outcomes among patients with Stage III colon cancer, researchers evaluated information from 1,038 participants in a chemotherapy clinical trial. Roughly half of the patients reported using a multivitamin during chemotherapy.

Use of multivitamins during and/or after adjuvant chemotherapy did not significantly affect risk of cancer recurrence or overall survival, nor did multivitamin use reduce the gastrointestinal side effects of chemotherapy.

These results suggest that multivitamin using during and after adjuvant chemotherapy does not significantly improve outcomes in patients with Stage III colon cancer.

Patients are advised to talk with their doctor about any dietary supplements that they are using or considering.

Reference: Ng K, Meyerhardt JA, Chan JA et al. Multivitamin use is not association with cancer recurrence or survival in patients with Stage III colon cancer: findings from CALGB 89803. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Early online publication August 30, 2010.

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