Vitamin D and fish oil may help prevent cancer death and heart attacks

In a new study, researchers found vitamin D and fish oil show promises in the prevention of cancer death and heart attacks.

The research was conducted by a team from the VITamin D and OmegA-3 Trial (VITAL), which is the largest and most recent to test whether vitamin D or fish oil can effectively prevent cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Results to date have been mixed but show promise for some outcomes, now confirmed by updated analyses.

Nearly 26,000 U.S. men and women participated in the nationwide VITAL clinical trial.

After more than five years of study and treatment, the results show promising signals for certain outcomes.

For example, Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) were associated with significant reductions in heart attacks.

The greatest treatment benefit was seen in people with dietary fish intake below 1.5 servings per week but not in those whose intake was above that level.

In addition, African-Americans appeared to experience the greatest risk reductions. The heart health benefits are now confirmed by recent meta-analyses of omega-3 randomized trials.

Similarly, vitamin D supplementation was linked to a big reduction in total cancer mortality among those in the trial at least two years.

The effect of vitamin D in reducing cancer death is also confirmed by updated meta-analyses of vitamin D trials to date.

The team says the pattern of findings suggests a complex balance of benefits and risks for each intervention and points to the need for additional research to determine which individuals may be most likely to derive a net benefit from these supplements.

The lead author of the study is Dr. JoAnn Manson from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

The study was presented at The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting.

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