Any woman who has faced breast cancer wants to do all within her power to prevent a recurrence, of course, and now a recent study suggests a simple step that may be beneficial-taking multivitamin/mineral supplements.

Here's the scoop: 2,239 women who had been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer between 1997 and 2000 completed questionnaires about their use of multivitamins before and after their diagnoses. By 2010, 363 of the women had had a breast cancer recurrence... 202 had died from the disease.

Results: Women who benefited most from taking multivitamin/mineral supplements were those who had radiation to treat their breast cancer. Details…

  • Among women who received radiation and chemotherapy, long-term multivitamin/ mineral users (those who took supplements three or more times weekly for at least 12 months in the five years prior to their initial diagnoses and continued after their diagnoses) were about 50% less likely to experience a breast cancer recurrence than women who never took multivitamins.
  • Among women who received radiation treatment only, long-term users were about 50% less likely to experience a breast cancer recurrence...75% less likely to die from breast cancer...and 46% less likely to die from any cause than women who never took multivitamins.

Using a vitamin product without minerals did not make a difference in cancer recurrence or death rates, though the significance of this result was limited because few participants used that type of multivitamin.

The study does not prove that multivitamins prevent breast cancer recurrence or death-the apparent benefit could be due to the fact that women in the study who took vitamins typically followed a more healthful lifestyle overall. However, researchers noted that, despite the controversial viewpoint that antioxidant supplements may counteract cancer treatment, multivitamin mineral use did not appear to have any negative effects for these breast cancer patients.

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