A recent study has reportedly revealed that postmenopausal invasive breast cancer patients who take multivitamins with minerals on a regular basis have a 30 percent lower rate of death when compared with those who do not take the supplement. S. Wassertheil-Smoller, et al., “Multivitamin and Mineral Use and Breast Cancer Mortality in Older Women with Invasive Breast Cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative,” Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, October 2013. Calling the evidence “tentative but intriguing,” lead author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, said that “multivitamin/mineral supplements may help older women who develop invasive breast cancer survive their disease.”  

Using a database of 161,608 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Clinical Trials and the WHI Observational Study, 7,728 participants diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during the WHI were followed for an average of seven years after their diagnosis. After enrolling in the WHI and during repeated follow-up visits, all participants provided information about their health including whether or not they had taken a multivitamin/mineral supplement at least once a week during the prior two weeks. Nearly 38 percent of the 7,728 women who developed invasive breast cancer during the WHI study used multivitamins and mineral supplements, and the majority took them before being diagnosed with breast cancer, the research showed. A comparison of mortality rates revealed that women with invasive breast cancer who took the supplements were 30 percent less likely to die from their cancer than women with invasive breast cancer who did not take the supplements. The scientists noted that a reduced risk of death remained even when factors such as race/ethnicity, weight, depression, alcohol use, physical activity, age at breast cancer diagnosis, and diabetes 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,” said Wassertheil-Smoller. “But further studies are needed to confirm whether there truly is a cause-andeffect relationship here. And our findings certainly cannot be generalized to premenopausal women diagnosed with invasive cancer or to other populations of women.” See Science Daily, October 9, 2013.