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USPSTF: Task Force Recommends Against Beta Carotene and Vitamin E to Prevent Heart Disease or Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael J. Barry, M.D., Task Force member Director of the Informed Medical Decisions Program Health Decision Sciences Center Massachusetts General Hospital. Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School and Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Barry

Michael J. Barry, M.D
Director of the Informed Medical Decisions Program
Health Decision Sciences Center
Massachusetts General Hospital.
Professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School
Dr. Barry was appointed as Vice Chair of USPSTF in March 2021.
He previously served as a member from January 2017 through December 2020.


MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: The Task Force looked at the use of vitamin and mineral supplementation specifically for the prevention of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. We found that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against taking multivitamin supplements, nor the use of single or paired nutrient supplements, to prevent these conditions.

However, we do know that you should not take vitamin E or beta-carotene for this purpose.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Many people take vitamins and mineral supplements to improve or maintain their overall health. This recommendation focuses on the use of vitamins and supplements to specifically prevent heart disease, stroke, and cancer. For most vitamin and mineral supplements, we need more research on whether or not they help prevent heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

There are important harms associated with beta-carotene, the most serious being significantly increasing the risk of lung cancer in people who are already at risk of the disease. For this reason, the Task Force recommends against the use of beta-carotene to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) or cancer. The evidence also shows that there is no benefit to taking vitamin E, so we have recommended against that as well. People who are interested in finding the best ways to prevent heart disease and cancer should talk with their healthcare professional about alternative options, like healthy diet and exercise.

This recommendation applies to healthy adults who do not have known or suspected nutritional deficiencies or special nutritional needs. People with nutritional deficiencies should talk to their health professional about what is best for their health. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: More research is needed to understand the full effects of vitamins and mineral supplementation on cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention. The Task Force recommends future research focus on studying the effect of vitamin supplementation across racial and ethnic groups who have a higher prevalence for heart disease, stroke, and cancer due to socioeconomic factors such as food insecurity.


  1. US Preventive Services Task Force. Vitamin, Mineral, and Multivitamin Supplementation to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2022;327(23):2326–2333. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.8970
    US Preventive Services Task Force

2.Elizabeth A. O’Connor, PhD; Corinne V. Evans, MPP; Ilya Ivlev, MD, PhD, MBI; Megan C. Rushkin, MPH; Rachel G.      Thomas, MPH; Allea Martin, MPH; Jennifer S. Lin, MD, MCR
USPSTF Review: Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Primary Prevention of CVD and Cancer

3.JAMA Patient Page
Patient Information: Vitamins and Minerals to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer
Jill Jin, MD, MPH

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Last Updated on June 30, 2022 by Marie Benz MD FAAD