LOS ANGELES (AP) - Multivitamins might help lower the risk for cancer in healthy older men but do not affect their chances of developing heart disease, new research suggests.
Two other studies found fish oil didn't work for an irregular heartbeat condition called atrial fibrillation, even though it is thought to help certain people with heart disease or high levels of fats called triglycerides in their blood.
The bottom line: Dietary supplements have varied effects and whether one is right for you may depend on your personal health profile, diet and lifestyle.
"Many people take vitamin supplements as a crutch," said study leader Dr. Howard Sesso of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "They're no substitute for a heart-healthy diet, exercising, not smoking, keeping your weight down," especially for lowering heart risks.
The studies were presented Monday at an American Heart Association conference in Los Angeles.
A separate analysis released in connection with the meeting showed that at least 1 in 3 baby boomers who are in good shape will eventually develop heart problems or have a stroke. The upside is that that will happen about seven years later than for their less healthy peers.
The study is "a wake-up call that this disease is very prevalent in the United States and even if you're doing a good job, you're not immune," said Dr. Vincent Bufalino, a Chicago-area cardiologist and spokesman for the American Heart Association.
The findings came in an analysis of five major studies involving nearly 50,000 adults aged 45 and older who were followed for up to 50 years.
The research was published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association, along with the vitamin paper and one fish oil study.
Multivitamins are America's favorite dietary supplement. About one-third of adults take them. Yet no government agency recommends their routine use for preventing chronic diseases, and few studies have tested them to see if they can.
A leading preventive medicine task force even recommends against beta-carotene supplements, alone or with other vitamins, to prevent cancer or heart disease because some studies have found them harmful. And vitamin K can affect bleeding and interfere with some commonly used heart drugs.
Sesso's study involved nearly 15,000 healthy male doctors given monthly packets of Centrum Silver or fake multivitamins. After about 11 years, there were no differences between the groups in heart attacks, strokes, chest pain, heart failure or heart-related deaths.
Side effects were fairly similar except for more rashes among vitamin users. The National Institutes of Health paid for most of the study. Pfizer Inc. supplied the pills and other companies supplied the packaging.
The same study a few weeks ago found that multivitamins cut the chance of developing cancer by 8 percent — a modest amount and less than what can be achieved from a good diet, exercise and not smoking.
Multivitamins also may have different results in women or people less healthy than those in this study — only 4 percent smoked, for example.
The fish-oil studies tested prescription-strength omega-3 capsules from several companies in two different groups of people for preventing atrial fibrillation, a fluttering, irregular heartbeat.
One study from South America aimed to prevent recurrent episodes in 600 participants who already had the condition. The other sought to prevent it from developing in 1,500 people from the U.S., Italy and Argentina having various types of heart surgery, such as valve replacement. About one third of heart-surgery patients develop atrial fibrillation as a complication.
Both studies found fish oil ineffective.
AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner in Chicago contributed to this report.
Heart Association: http://www.heart.org
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A Fort Wayne man was arrested after he apparently threw an alcoholic drink on his pregnant girlfriend and then hit her in the ear while her two small children were asleep in the home.
Police have charged six people and are still looking for one woman they believe is living in the Fort Wayne area. She faces meth dealing charges.
A Fort Wayne man is facing eight charges after he spit on a police officer who arrested him. He also spit on nurses and other officers while being treated at a local hospital.
Fort Wayne area firefighters, police officers, and EMT's are competing in the annual Battle of the Badges blood drive this holiday season.
Indiana residents receiving food stamps will begin receiving their monthly benefits on new dates under a state law approved earlier this year.
An Indiana teenager honored for helping save two children from icy waters in 2010 has died in a weekend shooting.
Police have identified a person of interest in Sunday’s stabbing outside of a home on Bluebird Court, off of St. Joe Road.
Police in Indianapolis say a seventh-grade boy has died after apparently collapsing and being found face down in the snow.
Police are looking for a white man who is 6'0" to 6'2" with a thin build they say robbed a CVS in November. He may have been driving a gray or dark green Ford SUV.
Police from several agencies have responded to multiple crashes overnight due to slick roads from a wintry mix that moved through the area late Sunday and early Monday morning.
A rural Angola man faces six felony charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman.
A local family wants help in making sure their loved one's murderer stays in prison.
Police said a man barricaded himself inside of a home on Genessee Avenue early Sunday morning for more than two hours after threatening to commit suicide.
Detectives believe a three-year-old boy may have shot himself at a home in Indianapolis Saturday night. Police said the shooting appears to have been accidental.
There will be several holiday-themed events this weekend in the Fort Wayne area, including Christmas displays, children’s parties, visits from Santa Claus, and more.