Letter from the Editors

Issue 21, Summer/Fall 2013

For millions of children every morning across America, mothers press upon them the time honored tradition of taking their daily vitamin. In parallel, it is likewise the case that approximately 40 percent of U.S. adults take some form of vitamin and/or mineral supplements on a daily basis as well.

All this in a society which has the best, most nutritious diet of virtually any country in the world and in which nutrient deficiencies are exceedingly uncommon.

Putting aside some specific benefits (e.g., calcium supplementation for osteoporosis prevention), are there benefits to the use of vitamin supplements for healthy adults with good diets? From the point of view of cancer, virtually every randomized trial of specific vitamins has shown no reduction in the incidence of specific cancers. Of course, negative studies lead to the inevitable argument that the wrong agent, combination of agents or dose(s) chosen may be the explanation for the disappointing outcome.

In this issue of Cancer Prevention, Dr. Heather Greenlee reviews this important topic. In particular, a recent large randomized trial has suggested that a daily multivitamin tablet may reduce overall cancer incidence in men. While requiring confirmation in further studies, it certainly suggests that the topic is not closed.

The Editors:

Alfred I. Neugut, MD, PhD
Myron M. Studner Professor of Cancer Research
Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology
Associate Director for Population Sciences
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Mailman School of Public Health
Co-Director, Cancer Prevention Program
NewYork-Presbyterian Cancer Centers

Andrew J. Dannenberg, MD
Henry R. Erle, MD -Roberts Family Professor of Medicine
Weill Cornell Medical College
Co-Director, Cancer Prevention Program
NewYork-Presbyterian Cancer Centers