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1.  Serum Antioxidant Nutrients, Vitamin A, and Mortality in US Adults 
Background
Observational studies have suggested that antioxidant nutrients may reduce cancer and overall mortality risks. However, most randomized trials have failed to demonstrate survival benefits. Examining non-linear associations between antioxidant levels and health outcomes may explain these discrepant findings.
Methods
We evaluated all-cause, cancer and cardiovascular mortality risks associated with quintiles (Q1–Q5) of serum antioxidant (vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium) and vitamin A levels, in 16,008 adult NHANES III (The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, 1988–1994) participants.
Results
Over a median follow-up period of 14.2 years, there were 4,225 deaths, including 891 from cancer, and 1,891 from cardiovascular disease. We observed a dose-response decrease in cancer and overall mortality risks with higher vitamin C levels. In contrast, for vitamin A, risk of cancer death decreased from Q1–Q2, with no further decline in risk at higher levels. For vitamin E, having levels in Q4 were associated with the lowest cancer mortality risk. Both vitamin A and E had U-shaped associations with all-cause mortality. Cancer mortality risks decreased from Q1–Q2 for beta-carotene and from Q1–Q4 for selenium. However, for beta-carotene and selenium, overall mortality risks decreased from Q1–Q2 but then did not change significantly with higher levels.
Conclusions
Antioxidant supplement use should be studied in the context of overall mortality and other competing mortality risks.
Impact
These data suggest the possible use of novel intervention studies where doses of these agents are individualized based on serum levels, and possibly, markers of oxidative stress and systemic inflammatory response.
doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0381
PMCID: PMC4026170  PMID: 23897583
Antioxidants; vitamin A; mortality; NHANES; dietary supplements
2.  Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing 
Executive Summary
This report from the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) was intended to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in average risk Canadians and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, this report also includes a systematic literature review of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in these two subgroups.
This evaluation did not set out to determine the serum vitamin D thresholds that might apply to non-bone health outcomes. For bone health outcomes, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support a target serum level above 50 nmol/L. Similarly, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support vitamin D’s effects in non-bone health outcomes, other than falls.
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a lipid soluble vitamin that acts as a hormone. It stimulates intestinal calcium absorption and is important in maintaining adequate phosphate levels for bone mineralization, bone growth, and remodelling. It’s also believed to be involved in the regulation of cell growth proliferation and apoptosis (programmed cell death), as well as modulation of the immune system and other functions. Alone or in combination with calcium, Vitamin D has also been shown to reduce the risk of fractures in elderly men (≥ 65 years), postmenopausal women, and the risk of falls in community-dwelling seniors. However, in a comprehensive systematic review, inconsistent results were found concerning the effects of vitamin D in conditions such as cancer, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found concerning the effects of vitamin D in such non-bone health outcomes. Given the uncertainties surrounding the effects of vitamin D in non-bone health related outcomes, it was decided that this evaluation should focus on falls and the effects of vitamin D in bone health and exclusively within average-risk individuals and patients with kidney disease.
Synthesis of vitamin D occurs naturally in the skin through exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight, but it can also be obtained from dietary sources including fortified foods, and supplements. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, fish liver oil, and some types of mushrooms. Since it is usually difficult to obtain sufficient vitamin D from non-fortified foods, either due to low content or infrequent use, most vitamin D is obtained from fortified foods, exposure to sunlight, and supplements.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Vitamin D deficiency may lead to rickets in infants and osteomalacia in adults. Factors believed to be associated with vitamin D deficiency include:
darker skin pigmentation,
winter season,
living at higher latitudes,
skin coverage,
kidney disease,
malabsorption syndromes such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and
genetic factors.
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency due to either renal losses or decreased synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Health Canada currently recommends that, until the daily recommended intakes (DRI) for vitamin D are updated, Canada’s Food Guide (Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide) should be followed with respect to vitamin D intake. Issued in 2007, the Guide recommends that Canadians consume two cups (500 ml) of fortified milk or fortified soy beverages daily in order to obtain a daily intake of 200 IU. In addition, men and women over the age of 50 should take 400 IU of vitamin D supplements daily. Additional recommendations were made for breastfed infants.
A Canadian survey evaluated the median vitamin D intake derived from diet alone (excluding supplements) among 35,000 Canadians, 10,900 of which were from Ontario. Among Ontarian males ages 9 and up, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake ranged between 196 IU and 272 IU per day. Among females, it varied from 152 IU to 196 IU per day. In boys and girls ages 1 to 3, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake was 248 IU, while among those 4 to 8 years it was 224 IU.
Vitamin D Testing
Two laboratory tests for vitamin D are available, 25-hydroxy vitamin D, referred to as 25(OH)D, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Vitamin D status is assessed by measuring the serum 25(OH)D levels, which can be assayed using radioimmunoassays, competitive protein-binding assays (CPBA), high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). These may yield different results with inter-assay variation reaching up to 25% (at lower serum levels) and intra-assay variation reaching 10%.
The optimal serum concentration of vitamin D has not been established and it may change across different stages of life. Similarly, there is currently no consensus on target serum vitamin D levels. There does, however, appear to be a consensus on the definition of vitamin D deficiency at 25(OH)D < 25 nmol/l, which is based on the risk of diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia. Higher target serum levels have also been proposed based on subclinical endpoints such as parathyroid hormone (PTH). Therefore, in this report, two conservative target serum levels have been adopted, 25 nmol/L (based on the risk of rickets and osteomalacia), and 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on vitamin D’s interaction with PTH).
Ontario Context
Volume & Cost
The volume of vitamin D tests done in Ontario has been increasing over the past 5 years with a steep increase of 169,000 tests in 2007 to more than 393,400 tests in 2008. The number of tests continues to rise with the projected number of tests for 2009 exceeding 731,000. According to the Ontario Schedule of Benefits, the billing cost of each test is $51.7 for 25(OH)D (L606, 100 LMS units, $0.517/unit) and $77.6 for 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (L605, 150 LMS units, $0.517/unit). Province wide, the total annual cost of vitamin D testing has increased from approximately $1.7M in 2004 to over $21.0M in 2008. The projected annual cost for 2009 is approximately $38.8M.
Evidence-Based Analysis
The objective of this report is to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, the report also sought to evaluate the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada. The specific research questions addressed were thus:
What is the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in subjects with kidney disease?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the average risk population in Canada?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in patients with kidney disease in Canada?
Clinical utility was defined as the ability to improve bone health outcomes with the focus on the average risk population (excluding those with osteoporosis) and patients with kidney disease.
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on July 17th, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 1998 until July 17th, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Observational studies that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada in the population of interest were included based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria listed below. The baseline values were used in this report in the case of interventional studies that evaluated the effect of vitamin D intake on serum levels. Studies published in grey literature were included if no studies published in the peer-reviewed literature were identified for specific outcomes or subgroups.
Considering that vitamin D status may be affected by factors such as latitude, sun exposure, food fortification, among others, the search focused on prevalence studies published in Canada. In cases where no Canadian prevalence studies were identified, the decision was made to include studies from the United States, given the similar policies in vitamin D food fortification and recommended daily intake.
Inclusion Criteria
Studies published in English
Publications that reported the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada
Studies that included subjects from the general population or with kidney disease
Studies in children or adults
Studies published between January 1998 and July 17th 2009
Exclusion Criteria
Studies that included subjects defined according to a specific disease other than kidney disease
Letters, comments, and editorials
Studies that measured the serum vitamin D levels but did not report the percentage of subjects with serum levels below a given threshold
Outcomes of Interest
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 25 nmol/L
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 40 to 50 nmol/L
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was the metabolite used to assess vitamin D status. Results from adult and children studies were reported separately. Subgroup analyses according to factors that affect serum vitamin D levels (e.g., seasonal effects, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake) were reported if enough information was provided in the studies
Quality of Evidence
The quality of the prevalence studies was based on the method of subject recruitment and sampling, possibility of selection bias, and generalizability to the source population. The overall quality of the trials was examined according to the GRADE Working Group criteria.
Summary of Findings
Fourteen prevalence studies examining Canadian adults and children met the eligibility criteria. With the exception of one longitudinal study, the studies had a cross-sectional design. Two studies were conducted among Canadian adults with renal disease but none studied Canadian children with renal disease (though three such US studies were included). No systematic reviews or health technology assessments that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada were identified. Two studies were published in grey literature, consisting of a Canadian survey designed to measure serum vitamin D levels and a study in infants presented as an abstract at a conference. Also included were the results of vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories in Ontario between October 2008 and September 2009 (provided by the Ontario Association of Medical Laboratories).
Different threshold levels were used in the studies, thus we reported the percentage of subjects with serum levels of between 25 and 30 nmol/L and between 37.5 and 50 nmol/L. Some studies stratified the results according to factors affecting vitamin D status and two used multivariate models to investigate the effects of these characteristics (including age, season, BMI, vitamin D intake, skin pigmentation, and season) on serum 25(OH)D levels. It’s unclear, however, if these studies were adequately powered for these subgroup analyses.
Study participants generally consisted of healthy, community-dwelling subjects and most excluded individuals with conditions or medications that alter vitamin D or bone metabolism, such as kidney or liver disease. Although the studies were conducted in different parts of Canada, fewer were performed in Northern latitudes, i.e. above 53°N, which is equivalent to the city of Edmonton.
Adults
Serum vitamin D levels of < 25 to 30 nmol/L were observed in 0% to 25.5% of the subjects included in five studies; the weighted average was 3.8% (95% CI: 3.0, 4.6). The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that approximately 5% of the subjects had serum levels below 29.5 nmol/L. The results of over 600,000 vitamin D tests performed in Ontarian community laboratories between October 2008 and September 2009 showed that 2.6% of adults (> 18 years) had serum levels < 25 nmol/L.
The prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below 37.5-50 nmol/L reported among studies varied widely, ranging from 8% to 73.6% with a weighted average of 22.5%. The preliminary results of the CHMS survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects had serum levels below 37 to 48 nmol/L. The results of the vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories showed that 10% to 25% of the individuals had serum levels between 39 and 50 nmol/L.
In an attempt to explain this inter-study variation, the study results were stratified according to factors affecting serum vitamin D levels, as summarized below. These results should be interpreted with caution as none were adjusted for other potential confounders. Adequately powered multivariate analyses would be necessary to determine the contribution of risk factors to lower serum 25(OH)D levels.
Seasonal variation
Three adult studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in different seasons observed a trend towards a higher prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L during the winter and spring months, specifically 21% to 39%, compared to 8% to 14% in the summer. The weighted average was 23.6% over the winter/spring months and 9.6% over summer. The difference between the seasons was not statistically significant in one study and not reported in the other two studies.
Skin Pigmentation
Four studies observed a trend toward a higher prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L in subjects with darker skin pigmentation compared to those with lighter skin pigmentation, with weighted averages of 46.8% among adults with darker skin colour and 15.9% among those with fairer skin.
Vitamin D intake and serum levels
Four adult studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels according to vitamin D intake and showed an overall trend toward a lower prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L with higher levels of vitamin D intake. One study observed a dose-response relationship between higher vitamin D intake from supplements, diet (milk), and sun exposure (results not adjusted for other variables). It was observed that subjects taking 50 to 400 IU or > 400 IU of vitamin D per day had a 6% and 3% prevalence of serum vitamin D level < 40 nmol/L, respectively, versus 29% in subjects not on vitamin D supplementation. Similarly, among subjects drinking one or two glasses of milk per day, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was found to be 15%, versus 6% in those who drink more than two glasses of milk per day and 21% among those who do not drink milk. On the other hand, one study observed little variation in serum vitamin D levels during winter according to milk intake, with the proportion of subjects exhibiting vitamin D levels of < 40 nmol/L being 21% among those drinking 0-2 glasses per day, 26% among those drinking > 2 glasses, and 20% among non-milk drinkers.
The overall quality of evidence for the studies conducted among adults was deemed to be low, although it was considered moderate for the subgroups of skin pigmentation and seasonal variation.
Newborn, Children and Adolescents
Five Canadian studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in newborns, children, and adolescents. In four of these, it was found that between 0 and 36% of children exhibited deficiency across age groups with a weighted average of 6.4%. The results of over 28,000 vitamin D tests performed in children 0 to 18 years old in Ontario laboratories (Oct. 2008 to Sept. 2009) showed that 4.4% had serum levels of < 25 nmol/L.
According to two studies, 32% of infants 24 to 30 months old and 35.3% of newborns had serum vitamin D levels of < 50 nmol/L. Two studies of children 2 to 16 years old reported that 24.5% and 34% had serum vitamin D levels below 37.5 to 40 nmol/L. In both studies, older children exhibited a higher prevalence than younger children, with weighted averages 34.4% and 10.3%, respectively. The overall weighted average of the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L among pediatric studies was 25.8%. The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects between 6 and 11 years (N= 435) had serum levels below 50 nmol/L, while for those 12 to 19 years, 25% to 50% exhibited serum vitamin D levels below 50 nmol/L.
The effects of season, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake were not explored in Canadian pediatric studies. A Canadian surveillance study did, however, report 104 confirmed cases1 (2.9 cases per 100,000 children) of vitamin D-deficient rickets among Canadian children age 1 to 18 between 2002 and 2004, 57 (55%) of which from Ontario. The highest incidence occurred among children living in the North, i.e., the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. In 92 (89%) cases, skin pigmentation was categorized as intermediate to dark, 98 (94%) had been breastfed, and 25 (24%) were offspring of immigrants to Canada. There were no cases of rickets in children receiving ≥ 400 IU VD supplementation/day.
Overall, the quality of evidence of the studies of children was considered very low.
Kidney Disease
Adults
Two studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in Canadian adults with kidney disease. The first included 128 patients with chronic kidney disease stages 3 to 5, 38% of which had serum vitamin D levels of < 37.5 nmol/L (measured between April and July). This is higher than what was reported in Canadian studies of the general population during the summer months (i.e. between 8% and 14%). In the second, which examined 419 subjects who had received a renal transplantation (mean time since transplantation: 7.2 ± 6.4 years), the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was 27.3%. The authors concluded that the prevalence observed in the study population was similar to what is expected in the general population.
Children
No studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in Canadian pediatric patients with kidney disease could be identified, although three such US studies among children with chronic kidney disease stages 1 to 5 were. The mean age varied between 10.7 and 12.5 years in two studies but was not reported in the third. Across all three studies, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below the range of 37.5 to 50 nmol/L varied between 21% and 39%, which is not considerably different from what was observed in studies of healthy Canadian children (24% to 35%).
Overall, the quality of evidence in adults and children with kidney disease was considered very low.
Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing
A high quality comprehensive systematic review published in August 2007 evaluated the association between serum vitamin D levels and different bone health outcomes in different age groups. A total of 72 studies were included. The authors observed that there was a trend towards improvement in some bone health outcomes with higher serum vitamin D levels. Nevertheless, precise thresholds for improved bone health outcomes could not be defined across age groups. Further, no new studies on the association were identified during an updated systematic review on vitamin D published in July 2009.
With regards to non-bone health outcomes, there is no high or even moderate quality evidence that supports the effectiveness of vitamin D in outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality. Even if there is any residual uncertainty, there is no evidence that testing vitamin D levels encourages adherence to Health Canada’s guidelines for vitamin D intake. A normal serum vitamin D threshold required to prevent non-bone health related conditions cannot be resolved until a causal effect or correlation has been demonstrated between vitamin D levels and these conditions. This is as an ongoing research issue around which there is currently too much uncertainty to base any conclusions that would support routine vitamin D testing.
For patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), there is again no high or moderate quality evidence supporting improved outcomes through the use of calcitriol or vitamin D analogs. In the absence of such data, the authors of the guidelines for CKD patients consider it best practice to maintain serum calcium and phosphate at normal levels, while supplementation with active vitamin D should be considered if serum PTH levels are elevated. As previously stated, the authors of guidelines for CKD patients believe that there is not enough evidence to support routine vitamin D [25(OH)D] testing. According to what is stated in the guidelines, decisions regarding the commencement or discontinuation of treatment with calcitriol or vitamin D analogs should be based on serum PTH, calcium, and phosphate levels.
Limitations associated with the evidence of vitamin D testing include ambiguities in the definition of an ‘adequate threshold level’ and both inter- and intra- assay variability. The MAS considers both the lack of a consensus on the target serum vitamin D levels and assay limitations directly affect and undermine the clinical utility of testing. The evidence supporting the clinical utility of vitamin D testing is thus considered to be of very low quality.
Daily vitamin D intake, either through diet or supplementation, should follow Health Canada’s recommendations for healthy individuals of different age groups. For those with medical conditions such as renal disease, liver disease, and malabsorption syndromes, and for those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, physician guidance should be followed with respect to both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
Conclusions
Studies indicate that vitamin D, alone or in combination with calcium, may decrease the risk of fractures and falls among older adults.
There is no high or moderate quality evidence to support the effectiveness of vitamin D in other outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canadian adults and children is relatively low (approximately 5%), and between 10% and 25% have serum levels below 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on very low to low grade evidence).
Given the limitations associated with serum vitamin D measurement, ambiguities in the definition of a ‘target serum level’, and the availability of clear guidelines on vitamin D supplementation from Health Canada, vitamin D testing is not warranted for the average risk population.
Health Canada has issued recommendations regarding the adequate daily intake of vitamin D, but current studies suggest that the mean dietary intake is below these recommendations. Accordingly, Health Canada’s guidelines and recommendations should be promoted.
Based on a moderate level of evidence, individuals with darker skin pigmentation appear to have a higher risk of low serum vitamin D levels than those with lighter skin pigmentation and therefore may need to be specially targeted with respect to optimum vitamin D intake. The cause-effect of this association is currently unclear.
Individuals with medical conditions such as renal and liver disease, osteoporosis, and malabsorption syndromes, as well as those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, should follow their physician’s guidance concerning both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
PMCID: PMC3377517  PMID: 23074397
3.  Fifteen-Year Effects of Helicobacter pylori, Garlic, and Vitamin Treatments on Gastric Cancer Incidence and Mortality 
In the Shandong Intervention Trial, 2 weeks of antibiotic treatment for Helicobacter pylori reduced the prevalence of precancerous gastric lesions, whereas 7.3 years of oral supplementation with garlic extract and oil (garlic treatment) or vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium (vitamin treatment) did not. Here we report 14.7-year follow-up for gastric cancer incidence and cause-specific mortality among 3365 randomly assigned subjects in this masked factorial placebo-controlled trial. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate the odds of gastric cancer incidence, and the Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate the relative hazard of cause-specific mortality. All statistical tests were two-sided. Gastric cancer was diagnosed in 3.0% of subjects who received H pylori treatment and in 4.6% of those who received placebo (odds ratio = 0.61, 95% confidence interval = 0.38 to 0.96, P = .032). Gastric cancer deaths occurred among 1.5% of subjects assigned H pylori treatment and among 2.1% of those assigned placebo (hazard ratio [HR] of death = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.36 to 1.28). Garlic and vitamin treatments were associated with non-statistically significant reductions in gastric cancer incidence and mortality. Vitamin treatment was associated with statistically significantly fewer deaths from gastric or esophageal cancer, a secondary endpoint (HR = 0.51, 95% CI = 0.30 to 0.87; P = .014).
doi:10.1093/jnci/djs003
PMCID: PMC3309129  PMID: 22271764
4.  Double blind, cluster randomised trial of low dose supplementation with vitamin A or β carotene on mortality related to pregnancy in Nepal 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;318(7183):570-575.
Objective
To assess the impact on mortality related to pregnancy of supplementing women of reproductive age each week with a recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A, either preformed or as β carotene.
Design
Double blind, cluster randomised, placebo controlled field trial.
Setting
Rural southeast central plains of Nepal (Sarlahi district).
Subjects
44 646 married women, of whom 20 119 became pregnant 22 189 times.
Intervention
270 wards randomised to 3 groups of 90 each for women to receive weekly a single oral supplement of placebo, vitamin A (7000 μg retinol equivalents) or β carotene (42 mg, or 7000 μg retinol equivalents) for over 3½ years.
Main outcome measures
All cause mortality in women during pregnancy up to 12 weeks post partum (pregnancy related mortality) and mortality during pregnancy to 6 weeks postpartum, excluding deaths apparently related to injury (maternal mortality).
Results
Mortality related to pregnancy in the placebo, vitamin A, and β carotene groups was 704, 426, and 361 deaths per 100 000 pregnancies, yielding relative risks (95% confidence intervals) of 0.60 (0.37 to 0.97) and 0.51 (0.30 to 0.86). This represented reductions of 40% (P<0.04) and 49% (P<0.01) among those who received vitamin A and β carotene. Combined, vitamin A or β carotene lowered mortality by 44% (0.56 (0.37 to 0.84), P<0.005) and reduced the maternal mortality ratio from 645 to 385 deaths per 100 000 live births, or by 40% (P<0.02). Differences in cause of death could not be reliably distinguished between supplemented and placebo groups.
Conclusion
Supplementation of women with either vitamin A or β carotene at recommended dietary amounts during childbearing years can lower mortality related to pregnancy in rural, undernourished populations of south Asia.
Key messagesMaternal vitamin A deficiency, evident as night blindness or low serum retinol concentration during pregnancy, is widely prevalent in rural south AsiaIn Nepal, women of reproductive age who were given 7000 μg retinol equivalents of vitamin A on a weekly basis showed a reduction in mortality related to pregnancy of 40%Weekly dosing with 42 mg β carotene (also providing 7000 μg retinol equivalents) lowered their mortality by 49%Preventing maternal vitamin A deficiency in rural South Asia can lower the risk of mortality of women during and after pregnancy
PMCID: PMC27760  PMID: 10037634
5.  Effect of Supplementation with Zinc and Other Micronutrients on Malaria in Tanzanian Children: A Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001125.
Hans Verhoef and colleagues report findings from a randomized trial conducted among Tanzanian children at high risk for malaria. Children in the trial received either daily oral supplementation with either zinc alone, multi-nutrients without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc, or placebo. The investigators did not find evidence from this study that zinc or multi-nutrients protected against malaria episodes.
Background
It is uncertain to what extent oral supplementation with zinc can reduce episodes of malaria in endemic areas. Protection may depend on other nutrients. We measured the effect of supplementation with zinc and other nutrients on malaria rates.
Methods and Findings
In a 2×2 factorial trial, 612 rural Tanzanian children aged 6–60 months in an area with intense malaria transmission and with height-for-age z-score≤−1.5 SD were randomized to receive daily oral supplementation with either zinc alone (10 mg), multi-nutrients without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc, or placebo. Intervention group was indicated by colour code, but neither participants, researchers, nor field staff knew who received what intervention. Those with Plasmodium infection at baseline were treated with artemether-lumefantrine. The primary outcome, an episode of malaria, was assessed among children reported sick at a primary care clinic, and pre-defined as current Plasmodium infection with an inflammatory response, shown by axillary temperature ≥37.5°C or whole blood C-reactive protein concentration ≥8 mg/L. Nutritional indicators were assessed at baseline and at 251 days (median; 95% reference range: 191–296 days). In the primary intention-to-treat analysis, we adjusted for pre-specified baseline factors, using Cox regression models that accounted for multiple episodes per child. 592 children completed the study. The primary analysis included 1,572 malaria episodes during 526 child-years of observation (median follow-up: 331 days). Malaria incidence in groups receiving zinc, multi-nutrients without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc and placebo was 2.89/child-year, 2.95/child-year, 3.26/child-year, and 2.87/child-year, respectively. There was no evidence that multi-nutrients influenced the effect of zinc (or vice versa). Neither zinc nor multi-nutrients influenced malaria rates (marginal analysis; adjusted HR, 95% CI: 1.04, 0.93–1.18 and 1.10, 0.97–1.24 respectively). The prevalence of zinc deficiency (plasma zinc concentration <9.9 µmol/L) was high at baseline (67% overall; 60% in those without inflammation) and strongly reduced by zinc supplementation.
Conclusions
We found no evidence from this trial that zinc supplementation protected against malaria.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00623857
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria is a serious global public-health problem. Half of the world's population is at risk of this parasitic disease, which kills a million people (mainly children living in sub-Saharan Africa) every year. Malaria is transmitted to people through the bites of infected night-flying mosquitoes. Soon after entering the human body, the parasite begins to replicate in red blood cells, bursting out every 2–3 days and infecting more red blood cells. The presence of the parasite in the blood stream (parasitemia) causes malaria's characteristic recurring fever and can cause life-threatening organ damage and anemia (insufficient quantity of red blood cells). Malaria transmission can be reduced by using insecticide sprays to control the mosquitoes that spread the parasite and by avoiding mosquito bites by sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets. Effective treatment with antimalarial drugs can also reduce malaria transmission.
Why Was This Study Done?
One reason why malaria kills so many children in Africa is poverty. Many children in Africa are malnourished, and malnutrition—in particular, insufficient micronutrients in the diet—impairs the immune system, which increases the frequency and severity of many childhood diseases. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that everyone needs in small quantities for good health. Zinc is one of the micronutrients that helps to maintain a healthy immune system, but zinc deficiency is very common among African children. Zinc supplementation has been shown to reduce the burden of diarrhea in developing countries, so might it also reduce the burden of malaria? Unfortunately, the existing evidence is confusing—some trials show that zinc supplementation protects against malaria but others show no evidence of protection. One possibility for these conflicting results could be that zinc supplementation alone is not sufficient—supplementation with other micronutrients might be needed for zinc to have an effect. In this randomized trial (a study that compares the effects of different interventions in groups that initially are similar in all characteristics except for intervention), the researchers investigate the effect of supplementation with zinc alone and in combination with other micronutrients on the rate of uncomplicated (mild) malaria among children living in Tanzania.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 612 children aged 6–60 months who were living in a rural area of Tanzania with intense malaria transmission and randomly assigned them to receive daily oral supplements containing zinc alone, multi-nutrients (including iron) without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc, or a placebo (no micronutrients). Nutritional indicators (including zinc concentrations in blood plasma) were assessed at baseline and 6–10 months after starting the intervention. During the study period, there were 1,572 malaria episodes. The incidence of malaria in all four intervention groups was very similar (about three episodes per child-year), and there was no evidence that multi-nutrients influenced the effect of zinc (or vice versa). Moreover, none of the supplements had any effect on malaria rates when compared to the placebo, even though the occurrence of zinc deficiency was strongly reduced by zinc supplementation. In a secondary analysis in which they analyzed their data by iron status at baseline, the researchers found that multi-nutrient supplementation increased the overall number of malaria episodes in children with iron deficiency by 41%, whereas multi-nutrient supplementation had no effect on the number of malaria episodes among children who were iron-replete at baseline.
What Do These Findings Mean?
In this study, the researchers found no evidence that zinc supplementation protected against malaria among young children living in Tanzania when given alone or in combination with other multi-nutrients. However, the researchers did find some evidence that multi-nutrient supplementation may increase the risk of malaria in children with iron deficiency. Because this finding came out of a secondary analysis of the data, it needs to be confirmed in a trial specifically designed to assess the effect of multi-nutrient supplements on malaria risk in iron-deficient children. Nevertheless, it is a potentially worrying result because, on the basis of evidence from a single study, the World Health Organization currently recommends that regular iron supplements be given to iron-deficient children in settings where there is adequate access to anti-malarial treatment. This recommendation should be reconsidered, suggest the researchers, and the safety of multi-nutrient mixes that contain iron and that are dispensed in countries affected by malaria should also be carefully evaluated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001125.
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages), on micronutrients, and on zinc deficiency; the 2010 World Malaria Report provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on malaria (in English and Spanish), including a selection of personal stories about malaria
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on the global control of malaria and on malaria in Africa
The Malaria Centre at the UK London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine develops tools, techniques, and knowledge about malaria, and has a strong emphasis on teaching, training, and translating research outcomes into practice
The Micronutrient Initiative, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, and the Flour Fortification Initiative are not-for-profit organizations dedicated to ensuring that people in developing countries get the minerals and vitamins they need to survive and thrive
The International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group (iZiNCG) is a non-profit organization that aims to promote and assist efforts to reduce zinc deficiency worldwide, through advocacy efforts, education, and technical assistance
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001125
PMCID: PMC3222646  PMID: 22131908
6.  Antioxidants Vitamin C and Vitamin E for the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer 
OBJECTIVE
To evaluate the evidence of the supplements vitamin C and vitamin E for treatment and prevention of cancer.
METHODS
Systematic review of trials and meta-analysis.
DATA SOURCES AND MAIN RESULTS
Thirty-eight studies showed scant evidence that vitamin C or vitamin E beneficially affects survival. In the ATBC Cancer Prevention Study Group, no statistically significant effect of treatment was seen for any cancer individually, and our pooled relative risk (regardless of tumor type) for α-tocopherol alone was 0.91 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.74, 1.12). All cause mortality was not significant. In the Linxian General Population Trial, the relative risks for cancer death for vitamin C (combined with molybdenum) was 1.06 (95% CI: 0.92, 1.21) and for vitamin E (combined with β-carotene and selenium) was 0.87 (95% CI: 0.76, 1.00). We identified only 3 studies that reported statistically significant beneficial results: vitamin C (in combination with BCG) was found to be beneficial in a single trial of bladder cancer and vitamin E (in combination with ω-3 fatty acid) increased survival in patients with advanced cancer. In the ATBC trial, in analyses of 6 individual cancers, the prevention of prostate cancer in subjects treated with α-tocopherol was statistically significant (RR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.44, 0.94).
CONCLUSIONS
The systematic review of the literature does not support the hypothesis that the use of supplements of vitamin C or vitamin E in the doses tested helps prevent and/or treat cancer in the populations tested. There were isolated findings of benefit, which require confirmation.
doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00483.x
PMCID: PMC1924689  PMID: 16808775
vitamin C; vitamin E; systematic review; cancer; antioxidant
7.  Vitamin K Supplementation in Postmenopausal Women with Osteopenia (ECKO Trial): A Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(10):1-12.
Background
Vitamin K has been widely promoted as a supplement for decreasing bone loss in postmenopausal women, but the long-term benefits and potential harms are unknown. This study was conducted to determine whether daily high-dose vitamin K1 supplementation safely reduces bone loss, bone turnover, and fractures.
Methods and Findings
This single-center study was designed as a 2-y randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, extended for earlier participants for up to an additional 2 y because of interest in long-term safety and fractures. A total of 440 postmenopausal women with osteopenia were randomized to either 5 mg of vitamin K1 or placebo daily. Primary outcomes were changes in BMD at the lumbar spine and total hip at 2 y. Secondary outcomes included changes in BMD at other sites and other time points, bone turnover markers, height, fractures, adverse effects, and health-related quality of life. This study has a power of 90% to detect 3% differences in BMD between the two groups. The women in this study were vitamin D replete, with a mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 77 nmol/l at baseline. Over 2 y, BMD decreased by −1.28% and −1.22% (p = 0.84) (difference of −0.06%; 95% confidence interval [CI] −0.67% to 0.54%) at the lumbar spine and −0.69% and −0.88% (p = 0.51) (difference of 0.19%; 95% CI −0.37% to 0.75%) at the total hip in the vitamin K and placebo groups, respectively. There were no significant differences in changes in BMD at any site between the two groups over the 2- to 4-y period. Daily vitamin K1 supplementation increased serum vitamin K1 levels by 10-fold, and decreased the percentage of undercarboxylated osteocalcin and total osteocalcin levels (bone formation marker). However, C-telopeptide levels (bone resorption marker) were not significantly different between the two groups. Fewer women in the vitamin K group had clinical fractures (nine versus 20, p = 0.04) and fewer had cancers (three versus 12, p = 0.02). Vitamin K supplements were well-tolerated over the 4-y period. There were no significant differences in adverse effects or health-related quality of life between the two groups. The study was not powered to examine fractures or cancers, and their numbers were small.
Conclusions
Daily 5 mg of vitamin K1 supplementation for 2 to 4 y does not protect against age-related decline in BMD, but may protect against fractures and cancers in postmenopausal women with osteopenia. More studies are needed to further examine the effect of vitamin K on fractures and cancers.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (#NCT00150969) and Current Controlled Trials (#ISRCTN61708241)
Angela Cheung and colleagues investigate whether vitamin K1 can prevent bone loss among postmenopausal women with osteopenia.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones gradually become less dense and more likely to break. In the US, 10 million people have osteoporosis and 18 million have osteopenia, a milder condition that precedes osteoporosis. In both conditions, insufficient new bone is made and/or too much old bone is absorbed. Although bone appears solid and unchanging, very little bone in the human body is more than 10 y old. Old bone is continually absorbed and new bone built using calcium, phosphorous, and proteins. Because the sex hormones control calcium and phosphorous deposition in the bones and thus bone strength, the leading cause of osteoporosis in women is reduced estrogen levels after menopause. In men, an age-related decline in testosterone levels can cause osteoporosis. Most people discover they have osteoporosis only when they break a bone, but the condition can be diagnosed and monitored using bone mineral density (BMD) scans. Treatments can slow down or reverse bone loss (antiresorptive therapies) and some (bone formation therapies) can even make bone and build bone tissue.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although regular exercise and a healthy diet can help to keep bones strong, other ways of preventing osteoporosis are badly needed. Recently, the lay media has promoted vitamin K supplements as a way to reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women. Vitamin K (which is found mainly in leafy green vegetables) is required for a chemical modification of proteins called carboxylation. This modification is essential for the activity of three bone-building proteins. In addition, there is some evidence that low bone density and fractures are associated with a low vitamin K intake. However, little is known about the long-term benefits or harms of vitamin K supplements. In this study, the researchers investigate whether a high-dose daily vitamin K supplement can safely reduce bone loss, bone turnover, and fractures in postmenopausal women with osteopenia in a randomized controlled trial called the “Evaluation of the Clinical Use of Vitamin K Supplementation in Post-Menopausal Women With Osteopenia” (ECKO) trial.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the study, 440 postmenopausal women with osteopenia were randomized to receive 5mg of vitamin K1 (the type of vitamin K in North American food; the recommended daily adult intake of vitamin K1 is about 0.1 mg) or an inactive tablet (placebo) daily for 2 y; 261 of the women continued their treatment for 2 y to gather information about the long-term effects of vitamin K1 supplementation. All the women had regular bone density scans of their lower back and hips and were examined for fractures and for changes in bone turnover. After 2 y and after 4 y, lower back and hip bone density measurements had decreased by similar amounts in both treatment groups. The women who took vitamin K1 had 10-fold higher amounts of vitamin K1 in their blood than the women who took placebo and lower amounts of a bone formation marker; the levels of a bone resorption marker were similar in both groups. Over the 4-y period, fewer women in the vitamin K group had fractures (nine versus 20 women in the placebo group), and fewer had cancer (three versus 12). Finally, vitamin K supplementation was well tolerated over the 4-y period and adverse health effects were similar in the two treatment groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that a high daily dose of vitamin K1 provides no protection against the age-related decline in bone density in postmenopausal women with osteopenia, but that vitamin K1 supplementation may protect against fractures and cancers in these women. The apparent contradiction between the effects of vitamin K1 on bone density and on fractures could mean that vitamin K1 supplements strengthen bone by changing factors other than bone density, e.g., by changing its fine structure rather than making it denser. However, because so few study participants had fractures, the difference in the fracture rate between the two treatment groups might have occurred by chance. Larger studies are therefore needed to examine the effect of vitamin K1 on fractures (and on cancer) and, until these are done, high-dose vitamin K1 supplementation should not be recommended for the prevention of osteoporosis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050196.
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides detailed information about osteoporosis (in English and Spanish) and links to other resources, including an interactive web tool called Check Up On Your Bones
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information about osteoporosis (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page about vitamin K
The UK Food Standards Agency provides information about vitamin K
Full details about the ECKO trial are available on the ClinicalTrials.gov Web site
The Canadian Task Force for Preventive Health Care provides recommendations on the prevention of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women
Osteoporosis Canada provides information on current topics related to osteoporosis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050196
PMCID: PMC2566998  PMID: 18922041
8.  Vitamin or mineral supplement intake and the risk of head and neck cancer: pooled analysis in the INHANCE consortium 
To investigate the potential role of vitamin or mineral supplementation on the risk of head and neck cancer (HNC), we analyzed individual-level pooled data from 12 case-control studies (7,002 HNC cases and 8,383 controls) participating in the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology consortium. There were a total of 2,028 oral cavity cancer, 2,465 pharyngeal cancer, and 874 unspecified oral/pharynx cancer, 1,329 laryngeal cancer and 306 overlapping HNC cases. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for self reported ever use of any vitamins, multivitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and calcium, beta-carotene, iron, selenium, and zinc supplements were assessed. We further examined frequency, duration and cumulative exposure of each vitamin or mineral when possible and stratified by smoking and drinking status. All ORs were adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, study center, education level, and pack-years of smoking, frequency of alcohol drinking and fruit/vegetable intake. A decreased risk of HNC was observed with ever use of vitamin C (OR=0.76, 95% CI=0.59-0.96) and with ever use of calcium supplement (OR=0.64, 95% CI=0.42-0.97). The inverse association with HNC risk was also observed for 10 or more years of vitamin C use (OR=0.72, 95% CI=0.54-0.97) and more than 365 tablets of cumulative calcium intake (OR=0.36, 95% CI=0.16-0.83), but linear trends were not observed for the frequency or duration of any supplement intake. We did not observe any strong associations between vitamin or mineral supplement intake and the risk of head and neck cancer.
doi:10.1002/ijc.27405
PMCID: PMC3376697  PMID: 22173631
vitamin supplement; mineral supplement; head and neck cancer
9.  Effect of Selenium and Vitamin E on Risk of Prostate Cancer and Other Cancers: The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) 
Context
Secondary analyses of two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and supportive epidemiologic and preclinical indicated the potential of selenium and vitamin E for preventing prostate cancer.
Objective
To determine whether selenium or vitamin E or both could prevent prostate cancer with little or no toxicity in relatively healthy men.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Randomization of a planned 32,400 men to selenium, vitamin E, selenium plus vitamin E, and placebo in a double-blinded fashion. Participants were recruited and followed in community practices, local hospitals and HMOs, and tertiary cancer centers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Baseline eligibility included 50 years or older (African American) or 55 years or older (all others), a serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) ≤ 4 ng/mL, and a digital rectal examination (DRE) not suspicious for prostate cancer. Between 2001 and 2004, 35,533 men (10% more than planned because of a faster-than-expected accrual rate) were randomly assigned to the four study arms, which were well balanced with respect to all potentially important risk factors.
Interventions
Oral selenium (200 µg/day from L-selenomethionine) and matched vitamin E placebo, vitamin E (400 IU/day of all rac-α-tocopheryl acetate) and matched selenium placebo, or the two combined or placebo plus placebo for a planned minimum of 7 and maximum of 12 years.
Main Outcome Measures
Prostate cancer (as determined by routine community diagnostic standards) and prespecified secondary outcomes including lung, colorectal and overall cancer.
Results
Study supplements were discontinued at the recommendation of the Data and Safety Monitoring Committee at a planned 7-year interim analysis because the evidence convincingly demonstrated no benefit from either study agent (p < 0.0001) and no possibility of a benefit to the planned degree with additional follow-up. As of October 23, 2008, median overall follow-up was 5.46 years (range, 4.17 and 7.33). Hazard ratios (number of prostate cancers, 99% confidence intervals [CIs]) for prostate cancer were 1.13 for vitamin E (n=473; CI, 0.91–1.41), 1.04 for selenium (n=432; CI, 0.83–1.30), and 1.05 for the combination (n=437; CI, 0.83–1.31) compared with placebo (n=416). There were no significant differences (all p-values > 0.15) in any prespecified cancer endpoints. There were nonsignificant increased risks of prostate cancer in the vitamin E arm (p=0.06; relative risk [RR]=1.13; 99% CI, 0l95–1.35) and of Type 2 diabetes mellitus in the selenium arm (p=0.16; RR=1.07; 99% CI, 0.94–1.22), but they were not observed in the combination arm.
Conclusion
Selenium or vitamin E, alone or in combination, did not prevent prostate cancer in this population at the doses and formulations used.
doi:10.1001/jama.2008.864
PMCID: PMC3682779  PMID: 19066370
10.  Vitamin E and the Risk of Prostate Cancer: Updated Results of The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) 
JAMA  2011;306(14):1549-1556.
Context
The initial report of the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) found no reduction in risk of prostate cancer with either selenium or vitamin E supplements but a non-statistically significant increase in prostate cancer risk with vitamin E. Longer follow-up and more prostate cancer events provide further insight into the relationship of vitamin E and prostate cancer.
Objective
To determine the long-term effect of vitamin E and selenium on risk of prostate cancer in relatively healthy men.
Design, Setting and Participants
SELECT randomized 35,533 men from 427 study sites in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico in a double-blind manner between August 22, 2001 and June 24, 2004. Eligible men were 50 years or older (African Americans) or 55 years or older (all others) with a PSA ≤4.0 ng/mL and a digital rectal examination not suspicious for prostate cancer. Included in the analysis are 34,887 men randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: selenium (n=8752), vitamin E (n=8737), both agents (n=8702), or placebo (n=8696). Data reflect the final data collected by the study sites on their participants through July 5, 2011.
Interventions
Oral selenium (200 μg/day from L-selenomethionine) with matched vitamin E placebo, vitamin E (400 IU/d of all rac-α-tocopheryl acetate) with matched selenium placebo, both agents, or both matched placebos for a planned follow-up of a minimum of 7 and maximum of 12 years.
Main Outcome Measures
Prostate cancer incidence.
Results
This report includes 54,464 additional person-years of follow-up since the primary report. Hazard ratios (99% confidence intervals [CI]) and numbers of prostate cancers were 1.17(99% CI 1.004-1.36, p=.008, n=620) for vitamin E, 1.09 (99% CI 0.93-1.27, p=.18, n=575) for selenium, 1.05 (99%CI 0.89-1.22, p=.46, n=555) for selenium + vitamin E vs. 1.00 (n=529) for placebo.The absolute increase in risk compared with placebo for vitamin E, selenium and the combination were 1.6, 0.9 and 0.4 cases of prostate cancer per 1,000 person-years.
Conclusions
Dietary supplementation with Vitamin E significantly increases the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men.
Trial registration
clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00006392
doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1437
PMCID: PMC4169010  PMID: 21990298
11.  Why vitamin D for cancer patients? 
ecancermedicalscience  2009;3:160.
Several epidemiological, pre-clinical and clinical studies support Vitamin D as a preventive and therapeutic cancer agent.
Background
Vitamin D and cancer: calcitriol, the biologically active form of vitamin D (1,25(OH)D), exerts its effects mainly through binding to nuclear vitamin D receptor (VDR). Calcitriol has been shown to be an anti-proliferative, pro-differentiation, pro-apoptotic agent and an inhibitor of cell migration. Animal and human in vitro studies strongly indicate that vitamin D may have benefits for many forms of cancer. Inadequate levels of circulating 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25(OH)D) are associated with an increased risk and poor prognosis of several types of cancer.
Vitamin D and melanoma: cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) represents a major public health issue: rates in Italy have almost doubled in the last decade and CMM is frequent among young adults. For resected stage II melanoma no standard adjuvant treatment exists and five-year overall survival is about 70%.
Cultured melanoma cells can synthesize calcitriol from 25(OH)D and express the VDR. Moreover, 1,25(OH)D has anti-proliferative and pro-differentiation effects in human melanoma cells. 1,25(OH)D has been shown to induce apoptosis in human melanoma cell lines and has an inhibitory effect on the spreading of melanoma cells in vitro.
Preliminary results on vitamin D: epidemiological data indicate that vitamin D deficiency is relatively common in Europe. In an Italian study, we found that 85% of the participants had insufficient levels of 25(OH)D. We have shown through a meta-analysis of randomized trials that vitamin D supplementation is associated with a significant reduction (7%) in total mortality in healthy subjects and an association between VDR and 25(OH)D and CMM progression has also been demonstrated. We have also reported significant associations between VDR polymorphisms and incidence of skin cancer. In early supplementation trials, the lack of effect on cancer incidence has been attributed to insufficient vitamin D supplementation, stressing the need to better study vitamin D bioavailability.
In fact, a recent IARC report highlighted the need for new randomized trials, based on results from our meta-analyses on 25(OH)D serum levels and cancer risk.
Clinical trial and biomarkers studies: in order to assess whether vitamin D supplementation could improve prognosis of CMM, an Italian multi-centre trial in stage II resected melanoma patients was planned to monitor changes in 25(OH)D. The study will address two important questions regarding the relationship between the biology of VDR and (1) vitamin D metabolism, and (2) CMM prognosis. This will involve investigating the association between VDR polymorphisms and Breslow thickness, the most important prognostic factor of CMM, and between 25(OH)D serum level, vitamin D supplementation and VDR.
We will also evaluate at baseline whether VDR polymorphisms are associated with Breslow thickness and whether we obtain significant increase in 25(OH)D serum levels during the first year of supplementation. We will quantify the percentages of patients who have desirable levels of 25(OH)D and, if they don’t, the mean time to reach that level. The findings from this study will be of great interest because vitamin D could have anti-cancer benefits for a wide spectrum of cancers.
doi:10.3332/ecancer.2009.160
PMCID: PMC3224009  PMID: 22276021
12.  Antioxidant Supplementation and Risk of Incident Melanomas: Results from a Large Prospective Cohort Study 
Archives of dermatology  2009;145(8):879-882.
Objective
To examine whether antioxidant supplement use is associated with melanoma risk in light of recently published data from the Supplementation in Vitamins and Mineral Antioxidant (SUVIMAX) study which reported a four-fold higher melanoma risk among women who were randomized to a supplement with nutritionally appropriate doses of antioxidants.
Design
Prospective study (VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort).
Setting
Population-based study targeting supplement users recruited from Western Washington State.
Participants
69,671 men and women who self-reported intake of multivitamins and supplemental antioxidants including selenium and beta-carotene over the past 10 years as well as melanoma risk factors on a baseline questionnaire.
Main Outcome Measure
incident melanoma identified through linkage to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) cancer registry.
Results
Cox regression models were used to estimate multivariate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for multivitamins, supplemental selenium and supplemental beta-carotene use. After adjusting for melanoma risk factors, we did not detect a significant association between multivitamins and melanoma risk for women (RR=1.14, CI = 0.78–1.66) or men (RR=1.09, CI =0.83–1.43). Moreover, we did not observe increased melanoma risk for supplemental beta-carotene (RR=0.87, CI=0.48, 1.56) or selenium (RR=0.98, CI=0.69–1.41) at doses comparable to the SUVIMAX study.
Conclusion
Antioxidants in nutritional doses do not appear to increase the melanoma risk.
doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2009.176
PMCID: PMC2729504  PMID: 19687417
13.  Vitamin D and risk of cause specific death: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational cohort and randomised intervention studies 
Objective To evaluate the extent to which circulating biomarker and supplements of vitamin D are associated with mortality from cardiovascular, cancer, or other conditions, under various circumstances.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies and randomised controlled trials.
Data sources Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, and reference lists of relevant studies to August 2013; correspondance with investigators.
Study selection Observational cohort studies and randomised controlled trials in adults, which reported associations between vitamin D (measured as circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration or vitamin D supplement given singly) and cause specific mortality outcomes.
Data extraction Data were extracted by two independent investigators, and a consensus was reached with involvement of a third. Study specific relative risks from 73 cohort studies (849 412 participants) and 22 randomised controlled trials (vitamin D given alone versus placebo or no treatment; 30 716 participants) were meta-analysed using random effects models and were grouped by study and population characteristics.
Results In the primary prevention observational studies, comparing bottom versus top thirds of baseline circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D distribution, pooled relative risks were 1.35 (95% confidence interval 1.13 to 1.61) for death from cardiovascular disease, 1.14 (1.01 to 1.29) for death from cancer, 1.30 (1.07 to 1.59) for non-vascular, non-cancer death, and 1.35 (1.22 to 1.49) for all cause mortality. Subgroup analyses in the observational studies indicated that risk of mortality was significantly higher in studies with lower baseline use of vitamin D supplements. In randomised controlled trials, relative risks for all cause mortality were 0.89 (0.80 to 0.99) for vitamin D3 supplementation and 1.04 (0.97 to 1.11) for vitamin D2 supplementation. The effects observed for vitamin D3 supplementation remained unchanged when grouped by various characteristics. However, for vitamin D2 supplementation, increased risks of mortality were observed in studies with lower intervention doses and shorter average intervention periods.
Conclusions Evidence from observational studies indicates inverse associations of circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D with risks of death due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other causes. Supplementation with vitamin D3 significantly reduces overall mortality among older adults; however, before any widespread supplementation, further investigations will be required to establish the optimal dose and duration and whether vitamin D3 and D2 have different effects on mortality risk.
doi:10.1136/bmj.g1903
PMCID: PMC3972416  PMID: 24690623
14.  Long-Term Use of Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals Does Not Reduce the Risk of Urothelial Cell Carcinoma of the Bladder in the VITamins And Lifestyle Study 
The Journal of urology  2011;185(4):1210-1215.
Purpose
Urothelial Carcinoma (UC) has the highest lifetime treatment cost of any cancer making it an ideal target for preventative therapies. Previous work has suggested that certain vitamin and mineral supplements may reduce the risk of UC. We sought to use the prospective VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort to examine the association of all commonly taken vitamin and mineral supplements as well as 6 common anti-inflammatory supplements with incident UC in a United States population.
Materials&Methods
77,050 eligible VITAL participants completed a detailed questionnaire at baseline on supplement use and cancer risk factors. . After 6 years of follow-up, 330 incident UC cases occurring in the cohort were identified via linkage to the Seattle-Puget Sound Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) cancer registry. We analyzed use of supplemental vitamins (multivitamins, beta-carotene, retinol, folic acid, vitamins B1, B3, B6, B12, C, D and E), minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium), and anti-inflammatory supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, saw-palmetto, ginko-biloba, fish oil and garlic). For each supplement, the hazard ratios (risk ratios) for UC comparing each category of users to nonusers, and 95% confidence intervals, were determined using Cox proportional hazards regression., adjusted for potential confounders.
Results
None of the vitamin, mineral or anti-inflammatory supplements was significantly associated with UC risk in either age-adjusted or multivariate models.
Conclusions
The results of this study do not support the use of commonly taken vitamin or mineral supplements or 6 common anti-inflammatory supplements for chemoprevention of UC.
doi:10.1016/j.juro.2010.11.081
PMCID: PMC3215292  PMID: 21334017
Urothelial Carcinoma; Supplement; Diet; Nutrition; Cancer Prevention
15.  Antioxidants and breast cancer risk- a population-based case-control study in Canada 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:372.
Background
The effect of antioxidants on breast cancer is still controversial. Our objective was to assess the association between antioxidants and breast cancer risk in a large population-based case-control study.
Methods
The study population included 2,362 cases with pathologically confirmed incident breast cancer (866 premenopausal and 1,496 postmenopausal) and 2,462 controls in Canada. Intakes of antioxidants from diet and from supplementation as well as other potential risk factors for breast cancer were collected by a self-reported questionnaire.
Results
Compared with subjects with no supplementation, 10 years or longer supplementation of zinc had multivariable-adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of 0.46 (0.25-0.85) for premenopausal women, while supplementation of 10 years or longer of multiple vitamin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc had multivariable-adjusted ORs (95% CIs) of 0.74 (0.59, 0.92), 0.58 (0.36, 0.95), 0.79 (0.63-0.99), 0.75 (0.58, 0.97), and 0.47 (0.28-0.78), respectively, for postmenopausal women. No significant effect of antioxidants from dietary sources (including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and zinc) or from supplementation less than 10 years was observed.
Conclusions
This study suggests that supplementation of zinc in premenopausal women, and supplementation of multiple vitamin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc in postmenopausal women for 10 or more years may protect women from developing breast cancer. However, we were unable to determine the overall effect of total dose or intake from both diet and supplement.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-372
PMCID: PMC3224257  PMID: 21864361
breast cancer; case-control study; antioxidants; supplementation; dietary intake
16.  Vitamin A supplementation and BCG vaccination at birth in low birthweight neonates: two by two factorial randomised controlled trial 
Objective To investigate the effect of vitamin A supplementation and BCG vaccination at birth in low birthweight neonates.
Design Randomised, placebo controlled, two by two factorial trial.
Setting Bissau, Guinea-Bissau.
Participants 1717 low birthweight neonates born at the national hospital.
Intervention Neonates who weighed less than 2.5 kg were randomly assigned to 25 000 IU vitamin A or placebo, as well as to early BCG vaccine or the usual late BCG vaccine, and were followed until age 12 months.
Main outcome measure Mortality, calculated as mortality rate ratios (MRRs), after follow-up to 12 months of age for infants who received vitamin A supplementation compared with those who received placebo.
Results No interaction was observed between vitamin A supplementation and BCG vaccine allocation (P=0.73). Vitamin A supplementation at birth was not significantly associated with mortality: the MRR of vitamin A supplementation compared with placebo, controlled for randomisation to “early BCG” versus “no early BCG” was 1.08 (95% CI 0.79 to 1.47). Stratification by sex revealed a significant interaction between vitamin A supplementation and sex (P=0.046), the MRR of vitamin A supplementation being 0.74 (95% CI 0.45 to 1.22) in boys and 1.42 (95% CI 0.94 to 2.15) in girls. When these data were combined with data from a complementary trial among normal birthweight neonates in Guinea-Bissau, the combined estimate of the effect of neonatal vitamin A supplementation on mortality was 1.08 (95% CI 0.87 to 1.33); 0.80 (95% CI 0.58 to 1.10) in boys and 1.41 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.90) in girls (P=0.01 for interaction between neonatal vitamin A and sex).
Conclusions The combined results of this trial and the complementary trial among normal birthweight neonates have now shown that, overall, it would not be beneficial to implement a neonatal vitamin A supplementation policy in Guinea-Bissau. Worryingly, the trials show that vitamin A supplementation at birth can be harmful in girls. Previous studies and future trials should investigate the possibility that vitamin A supplementation has sex differential effects.
Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00168610.
doi:10.1136/bmj.c1101
PMCID: PMC2835853  PMID: 20215360
17.  Efficacy of Antioxidant Treatment in Reducing Resistin Serum Levels: A Randomized Study 
PLoS Clinical Trials  2007;2(5):e17.
Objectives:
Few in vitro studies have examined the participation of resistin, a recently discovered adipokine, in oxidative processes. We investigated whether in vivo treatment with the antioxidant vitamin C might affect resistin serum levels.
Design:
Randomized prospective open trial.
Setting:
San Giovanni Battista Hospital, Turin, Italy.
Participants:
Eighty healthy individuals.
Intervention:
Administration of 2 g of ascorbic acid orally for 2 wk (n = 40; experimental group) or no supplementation (n = 40; control group).
Outcome measures:
The primary end point was the between-group difference in the before–after change in resistin serum level after vitamin C supplementation. Secondary endpoints were the within- and between-group changes in glucose, insulin, lipid parameters, C-reactive protein fasting values, and markers of oxidative stress.
Results:
In the experimental group, vitamin C supplementation was significantly associated with both resistin concentration reduction (from 4.3 ± 1.5 to 2.9 ± 0.8 ng/ml; 95% confidence interval [CI] −1.87, −1.03) and ascorbic acid level increase (from 9.4 ± 2.9 to 19.0 ± 5.2 mg/l; 95% CI 7.9, 11.2). In the control group, resistin levels did not change significantly (from 4.2 ± 1.0 to 4.3 ± 0.9 ng/ml; 95% CI −0.07, 0.37). The between-group differences were highly significant (p < 0.001). Vitamin C supplementation was also associated with a statistically significant reduction in nitrotyrosine level and incremental increase in reduced glutathione. In a linear regression model, within-individual changes in vitamin C concentrations were inversely correlated with changes in resistin levels in both groups (each unit increase of vitamin C corresponded to a decrease of about 0.10 units of resistin levels (95% CI 0.13, 0.08; p < 0.001).
Conclusion:
This is to our knowledge the first randomized trial in humans that has demonstrated that short-term vitamin C supplementation could significantly reduce resistin levels, independent of changes in inflammatory or metabolic variables. Future investigations of resistin participation in oxidative processes are warranted.
Editorial Commentary
Background: Resistin is a hormone that is produced by fat cells. Much of the work on resistin has been done in mice, and as a result of this research the hormone was thought to explain the link between obesity and development of diabetes. In obese mice, higher levels of resistin are seen, and this hormone seems to interfere with the normal role of insulin in reducing blood sugar levels. However, the exact biochemical pathways in mice and humans seem to be very different, and it is not obvious whether resistin plays the same role in the development of diabetes in humans as it does in mice. At the same time, some researchers have suggested links between resistin and oxidative stress, which is thought to be involved in the development of certain diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease. The researchers here wanted to more fully explore these links by finding out whether an antioxidant, vitamin C, affected levels of resistin in blood. The researchers carried out a trial in healthy human participants, who were randomized to receive 2 g of vitamin C daily for two weeks, or no treatment. The primary outcome of the trial was the change in resistin levels in blood, and the researchers also looked at the levels of other biochemical variables in blood, such as fasting glucose, insulin, cholesterol, fatty acids, and nitrotyrosine.
What the trial shows: The researchers recruited 80 participants into the trial, and 40 were randomized to receive 2 g of vitamin C supplementation for two weeks. Forty individuals acted as “controls” and received no intervention over the two weeks of the trial. Outcomes were assessed for all but two individuals in the control group. Overall, levels of resistin in blood fell substantially over the course of the trial among the individuals in the vitamin C supplementation group, but not in the control arm of the trial, and this difference between groups was statistically significant. The levels of many other biochemical markers in blood, such as glucose, cholesterol, fatty acids, and insulin, did not show statistically significant changes between the randomized groups. However, levels of two markers of oxidative stress did change: levels of nitrotyrosine, which is associated with cell damage and inflammation, seemed to drop in the vitamin C group relative to the control group, and levels of reduced glutathione (an antioxidant) seemed to increase in the vitamin C group relative to the control group.
Strengths and limitations: In this trial, all individuals were randomized at once to the two study groups. While this is unconventional (normally, participants are randomized one by one, as they are screened and deemed eligible for a study), the process would be likely to prevent bias in allocation of individuals to the study groups. Although participants were not blinded to which study group they were assigned to, the laboratory staff measuring biochemical marker levels in blood were blinded to the study groups. A key limitation of this study is that the participants in the control arm did not receive placebo tablets, but rather received no treatment. A placebo control group would have enabled the researchers to blind participants as to whether they received vitamin C or no active intervention. Participants' knowledge of their group assignment (e.g., to receive vitamin C or no intervention) may have affected their response in the trial. Finally, the trial was conducted on a small group of healthy individuals, and no clinical outcomes were examined. Therefore, although the findings are intriguing, their clinical meaning is not clear.
Contribution to the evidence: There are few other studies that have been carried out in humans examining the possibility of a link between resistin levels and oxidative stress. This study suggests that vitamin C administration reduces blood levels of resistin in humans. This finding does not yet clearly point to a specific role for resistin in disease processes or human disease, but raises questions for further study.
doi:10.1371/journal.pctr.0020017
PMCID: PMC1865087  PMID: 17479165
18.  Meta-Analysis of Long-Term Vitamin D Supplementation on Overall Mortality 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82109.
Introduction
It has been suggested that vitamin D is effective to prevent mortality. However, there is no consistent conclusion that the effects of vitamin D supplementation on all-cause mortality are associated with duration of treatment. We conducted a meta-analysis regarding this issue in an effort to provide a more robust answer.
Methods
A comprehensive search in a number of databases, including MEDLINE, Embase and The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, was conducted for collecting randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on vitamin D supplementation preventing mortality. Two investigators independently screened the literature according to the inclusive and exclusive criteria and the relative data were extracted. Data analysis was performed by using Review Manager 5.0 software.
Results
Data from forty-two RCT s were included. Vitamin D therapy significantly decreased all-cause mortality with a duration of follow-up longer than 3 years with a RR (95% CI) of 0.94 (0.90–0.98). No benefit was seen in a shorter follow-up periods with a RR (95% CI) of 1.04 (0.97–1.12). Results remain robust after sensitivity analysis. The following subgroups of long-term follow-up had significantly fewer deaths: female only, participants with a mean age younger than 80, daily dose of 800 IU or less, participants with vitamin D insufficiency (baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D level less than 50 nmol/L) and cholecalciferol therapy. In addition, the combination of vitamin D and calcium significantly reduced mortality and vitamin D alone also had a trend to decrease mortality in a longer time follow up.
Conclusions
The data suggest that supplementation of vitamin D is effective in preventing overall mortality in a long-term treatment, whereas it is not significantly effective in a treatment duration shorter than 3 years. Future studies are needed to identify the efficacy of vitamin D on specific mortality, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality in a long-term treatment duration.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082109
PMCID: PMC3857784  PMID: 24349197
19.  Health risks and benefits from calcium and vitamin D supplementation: Women's Health Initiative clinical trial and cohort study 
Osteoporosis International  2012;24(2):567-580.
Summary
The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial randomly assigned 36,282 postmenopausal women in the U.S. to 1,000 mg elemental calcium carbonate plus 400 IU of vitamin D3 daily or placebo, with average intervention period of 7.0 years. The trial was designed to test whether calcium plus vitamin D supplementation in a population in which the use of these supplements was widespread would reduce hip fracture, and secondarily, total fracture and colorectal cancer.
Introduction
This study further examines the health benefits and risks of calcium and vitamin D supplementation using WHI data, with emphasis on fractures, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and total mortality.
Methods
WHI calcium and vitamin D randomized clinical trial (CT) data through the end of the intervention period were further analyzed with emphasis on treatment effects in relation to duration of supplementation, and these data were contrasted and combined with corresponding data from the WHI prospective observational study (OS).
Results
Among women not taking personal calcium or vitamin D supplements at baseline, the hazard ratio [HR] for hip fracture occurrence in the CT following 5 or more years of calcium and vitamin D supplementation versus placebo was 0.62 (95 % confidence interval (CI), 0.38–1.00). In combined analyses of CT and OS data, the corresponding HR was 0.65 (95 % CI, 0.44–0.98). Supplementation effects were not apparent on the risks of myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, total heart disease, stroke, overall cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, or total mortality, while evidence for a reduction in breast cancer risk and total invasive cancer risk among calcium plus vitamin D users was only suggestive.
Conclusion
Though based primarily on a subset analysis, long-term use of calcium and vitamin D appears to confer a reduction that may be substantial in the risk of hip fracture among postmenopausal women. Other health benefits and risks of supplementation at doses considered, including an elevation in urinary tract stone formation, appear to be modest and approximately balanced.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00198-012-2224-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00198-012-2224-2
PMCID: PMC3557387  PMID: 23208074
Calcium; Cancer; Cardiovascular disease; Fractures; Health risks and benefits; Vitamin D
20.  Effects of vitamin D supplementation on bone density in healthy children: systematic review and meta-analysis 
Objective To determine the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation for improving bone mineral density in children and adolescents and if effects vary with factors such as vitamin D dose and vitamin D status.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Data sources Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Medline (1966 to present), Embase (1980 to present), CINAHL (1982 to present), AMED (1985 to present), and ISI Web of Science (1945 to present), last updated on 9 August 2009, and hand searching of conference abstracts from key journals.
Study selection Placebo controlled randomised controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation for at least three months in healthy children and adolescents (aged 1 month to <20 years) with bone density outcomes. Two authors independently assessed references for inclusion and study quality and extracted data.
Data synthesis Standardised mean differences of the percentage change from baseline in bone mineral density of the forearm, hip, and lumbar spine and total body bone mineral content in treatment and control groups. Subgroup analyses were carried out by sex, pubertal stage, dose of vitamin D, and baseline serum vitamin D concentration. Compliance and allocation concealment were also considered as possible sources of heterogeneity.
Results From 1653 potential references, six studies, totalling 343 participants receiving placebo and 541 receiving vitamin D, contributed data to meta-analyses. Vitamin D supplementation had no statistically significant effects on total body bone mineral content or on bone mineral density of the hip or forearm. There was a trend to a small effect on lumbar spine bone mineral density (standardised mean difference 0.15, 95% confidence interval −0.01 to 0.31; P=0.07). Effects were similar in studies of participants with high compared with low serum vitamin D levels, although there was a trend towards a larger effect with low vitamin D for total body bone mineral content (P=0.09 for difference). In studies with low serum vitamin D, significant effects on total body bone mineral content and lumbar spine bone mineral density were roughly equivalent to a 2.6% and 1.7% percentage point greater change from baseline in the supplemented group.
Conclusions It is unlikely that vitamin D supplements are beneficial in children and adolescents with normal vitamin D levels. The planned subgroup analyses by baseline serum vitamin D level suggest that vitamin D supplementation of deficient children and adolescents could result in clinically useful improvements, particularly in lumbar spine bone mineral density and total body bone mineral content, but this requires confirmation.
doi:10.1136/bmj.c7254
PMCID: PMC3026600  PMID: 21266418
21.  Vitamins C and E and Beta Carotene Supplementation and Cancer Risk: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Background
Observational studies suggested that a diet high in fruits and vegetables, both of which are rich with antioxidants, may prevent cancer development. However, findings from randomized trials of the association between antioxidant use and cancer risk have been mostly negative.
Methods
From 8171 women who were randomly assigned in the Women's Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study, a double-blind, placebo-controlled 2 × 2 × 2 factorial trial of vitamin C (500 mg of ascorbic acid daily), natural-source vitamin E (600 IU of α-tocopherol every other day), and beta carotene (50 mg every other day), 7627 women who were free of cancer before random assignment were selected for this study. Diagnoses and deaths from cancer at a specific site were confirmed by use of hospital reports and the National Death Index. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to assess hazard ratios (represented as relative risks [RRs]) of common cancers associated with use of antioxidants, either individually or in combination. Subgroup analyses were conducted to determine if duration of use modified the association of supplement use with cancer risk. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results
During an average 9.4 years of treatment, 624 women developed incident invasive cancer and 176 women died from cancer. There were no statistically significant effects of use of any antioxidant on total cancer incidence. Compared with the placebo group, the RRs were 1.11 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.95 to 1.30) in the vitamin C group, 0.93 (95% CI = 0.79 to 1.09) in the vitamin E group, and 1.00 (95% CI = 0.85 to 1.17) in the beta carotene group. Similarly, no effects of these antioxidants were observed on cancer mortality. Compared with the placebo group, the RRs were 1.28 (95% CI = 0.95 to 1.73) in the vitamin C group, 0.87 (95% CI = 0.65 to 1.17) in the vitamin E group, and 0.84 (95% CI = 0.62 to 1.13) in the beta carotene group. Duration and combined use of the three antioxidants also had no effect on cancer incidence and cancer death.
Conclusions
Supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E, or beta carotene offers no overall benefits in the primary prevention of total cancer incidence or cancer mortality.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djn438
PMCID: PMC2615459  PMID: 19116389
22.  Vitamins C and E and Beta-Carotene Supplementation and Cancer Risk: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Background:
Observational studies suggested that a diet high in fruits and vegetables, both of which are rich with antioxidants, may prevent cancer development. However, findings from randomized trials of the association between antioxidant use and cancer risk have been mostly negative.
Methods:
From 8171 women who were randomly assigned in the Women's Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study, a double-blind, placebo-controlled 2×2×2 factorial trial of vitamin C (500 mg of ascorbic acid daily), natural-source vitamin E (600 IU of α-tocopherol every other day), and beta-carotene (50 mg every other day), 7627 women who were free of cancer before random assignment were selected for this study. Diagnoses and deaths from cancer at a specific site were confirmed by use of hospital reports and the National Death Index. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to assess hazard ratios (represented as relative risks [RRs]) of common cancers associated with use of antioxidants, either individually or in combination. Subgroup analyses were conducted to determine if duration of use modified the association of supplement use with cancer risk. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results:
During an average 9.4 years of treatment, 624 women developed incident invasive cancer and 176 women died from cancer. There were no statistically significant effects of use of any antioxidant on total cancer incidence. Compared with the placebo group, the RRs were 1.11 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.95 to 1.30) in the vitamin C group, 0.93 (95% CI = 0.79 to 1.09) in the vitamin E group, and 1.00 (95% CI = 0.85 to 1.17) in the beta-carotene group. Similarly, no effects of these antioxidants were observed on cancer mortality. Compared with the placebo group, the RRs were 1.28 (95% CI = 0.95 to 1.73) in the vitamin C group, 0.87 (95% CI =0.65 to 1.17) in the vitamin E group, and 0.84 (95% CI =0.62 to 1.13) in the beta-carotene group. Duration and combined use of the three antioxidants also had no effect on cancer incidence and cancer death.
Conclusions:
Supplementation with vitamins C, vitamin E, or beta-carotene offers no overall benefits in the primary prevention of total cancer incidence or cancer mortality.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djn438
PMCID: PMC2615459  PMID: 19116389
23.  Association between serum 25(OH) vitamin D, incident liver cancer and chronic liver disease mortality in the Linxian Nutrition Intervention Trials: a nested case–control study 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;109(7):1997-2004.
Background:
Although vitamin D deficiency has been noted in cross-sectional studies of chronic liver disease and laboratory studies suggest possible benefits of vitamin D in preventing liver cancer, little epidemiologic data are available.
Methods:
We performed a nested case–control study in the Linxian Nutrition Intervention Trials on participants developing incident liver cancer or dying from chronic liver disease over 22 years of follow-up. Baseline serum 25(OH) vitamin D was measured for 226 incident liver cancer cases, 282 chronic liver disease deaths and 1063 age-, sex- and trial-matched controls. Unconditional logistical regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results:
The median serum vitamin D level in controls was low (20 nmol l–1). Compared with the lowest quartile, subjects in the fourth quartile had lower risk of chronic liver disease death (OR=0.34, 95% CI=0.21–0.55). For liver cancer incidence, risk estimates were below one, but were not statistically significant. Associations, however, were significant among participants with higher serum calcium levels (Q4 vs Q1, OR=0.43, 95% CI=0.21–0.89). Results for chronic liver disease did not vary by serum calcium level.
Conclusion:
In a low vitamin D population, higher serum 25(OH) vitamin D concentrations were associated with significantly lower risk of chronic liver disease deaths, and among those with higher serum calcium, incident liver cancer. Our results suggest a possible protective role for vitamin D in these diseases.
doi:10.1038/bjc.2013.546
PMCID: PMC3790191  PMID: 24008664
serum vitamin D; chronic liver disease; liver cancer; a nested case–control study
24.  Effect of vitamin A supplementation in women of reproductive age on cause-specific early and late infant mortality in rural Ghana: ObaapaVitA double-blind, cluster-randomised, placebo-controlled trial 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000658.
Objectives
To assess the effect of vitamin A supplementation in women of reproductive age in Ghana on cause- and age-specific infant mortality. In addition, because of recently published studies from Guinea Bissau, effects on infant mortality by sex and season were assessed.
Design
Double-blind, cluster-randomised, placebo-controlled trial.
Setting
7 contiguous districts in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana.
Participants
All women of reproductive age (15–45 years) resident in the study area randomised by cluster of residence. All live born infants from 1 June 2003 to 30 September 2008 followed up through 4-weekly home visits.
Intervention
Weekly low-dose (25 000 IU) vitamin A.
Main outcome measures
Early infant mortality (1–5 months); late infant mortality (6–11 months); infection-specific infant mortality (0–11 months).
Results
1086 clusters, 62 662 live births, 52 574 infant-years and 3268 deaths yielded HRs (95% CIs) comparing weekly vitamin A with placebo: 1.04 (0.88 to 1.05) early infant mortality; 0.99 (0.84 to 1.18) late infant mortality; 1.03 (0.92 to 1.16) infection-specific infant mortality. There was no evidence of modification of the effect of vitamin A supplementation on infant mortality by sex (Wald statistic =0.07, p=0.80) or season (Wald statistic =0.03, p=0.86).
Conclusions
This is the largest analysis of cause of infant deaths from Africa to date. Weekly vitamin A supplementation in women of reproductive age has no beneficial or deleterious effect on the causes of infant death to age 6 or 12 months in rural Ghana.
Trial registration number
http://ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00211341.
Article summary
Article focus
This paper reports the results of planned (a priori) analyses of the effect of vitamin A supplementation in women of reproductive age on cause- and age-specific infant mortality in the ObaapaVitA trial.
In addition, because of the recent interest in potential differential effects, we also assessed effects by sex and season.
Key messages
The analyses from this trial indicate that weekly vitamin A supplementation in women of reproductive age has no beneficial or deleterious effect on the causes of death in their babies of age 6 or 12 months, no effect on infection-specific infant mortality and no role for inclusion in child survival programs in Asia and Africa.
We also failed to demonstrate any benefit or harm from vitamin A supplementation in women of reproductive age and in infant males or females in our study population. There was also no modification of the effect of vitamin A supplementation and mortality by season.
Strengths and limitations of this study
There were some limitations to our trial. There was no direct observation of capsule taking; however, adherence was supported by an extensive Information, Education and Communication strategy, and we estimated that on average 75% of women both received and took all four capsules every month.
We also used verbal postmortems (VPMs) and physician coders to assign cause of death, and it was not possible to use health facility records or postmortem examinations to verify the cause of death. Misclassification is common in VPM studies, but this can be minimised when broad categories such as ‘infection’, ‘prematurity’ and ‘asphyxia’ are used. Our VPM tools were also validated in similar study populations, and acceptable sensitivity and specificity were reported in comparison to a gold standard.
Strengths included the fact that our study was large (62 000 infants) prospective and population-based. All resident women in the trial districts and their babies were enrolled, and loss to follow-up was low, even in women with babies who had died.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000658
PMCID: PMC3330261  PMID: 22218721
25.  Calcium Plus Vitamin D Supplementation and Health Outcomes Five Years After Active Intervention Ended: The Women's Health Initiative 
Journal of Women's Health  2013;22(11):915-929.
Abstract
Background
Clinical outcomes of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) calcium plus vitamin D supplementation trial have been reported during 7.0 years of active intervention. We now report outcomes 4.9 years after the intervention stopped and cumulative findings.
Methods
Postmenopausal women (N=36,282) were randomized; postintervention follow-up continued among 29,862 (86%) of surviving participants. Primary outcomes were hip fracture and colorectal cancer. Breast cancer, all cancers, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and total mortality were predetermined major study outcomes.
Results
Hip fracture incidence was comparable in the supplement and the placebo groups, postintervention hazard ratio (HR)=0.95, 95% confidence interval (95% CI: 0.78, 1.15) and overall HR=0.91 (95% CI: 0.79, 1.05). Overall, colorectal cancer incidence did not differ between randomization groups, HR=0.95 (95% CI: 0.80, 1.13). Throughout, there also was no difference in invasive breast cancer, CVD, and all-cause mortality between groups. In subgroup analyses, the invasive breast cancer effect varied by baseline vitamin D intake (p=0.03 for interaction). Women with vitamin D intakes >600 IU/d, had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, HR=1.28 (95% CI; 1.03, 1.60). Over the entire study period, in post hoc analyses, the incidence of vertebral fractures, HR=0.87 (95% CI: 0.76, 0.98) and in situ breast cancers, HR=0.82 (95% CI: 0.68, 0.99) were lower among women randomized to supplementation.
Conclusion
After an average of 11 years, calcium and vitamin D supplementation did not decrease hip fracture or colorectal cancer incidence. Exploratory analyses found lower vertebral fracture and in situ breast cancer incidence in the supplement users. There was no effect on CVD or all-cause mortality.
doi:10.1089/jwh.2013.4270
PMCID: PMC3882746  PMID: 24131320

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