What level of dietary supplements are used among older, long-term survivors of female breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer?

From: Journal of Cancer Survival

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  • 753 older (65 yrs and older), long-term survivors (over 4 years post-diagnosis) of female breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer.


  • Telephone surveys which included two 24- hour dietary recalls and items regarding supplement use (type, dose, and duration). 


  • A majority of survivors (74%) reported taking supplements, with multivitamins (60%), calcium/vitamin D (37%), and antioxidants (30%), fatty acids/oils (21%), and glucosamine/ chondroitin (14%) as the most prevalent.
  • Overall proportions of the total sample with dietary intakes below Estimated Average Requirements were substantial, although supplement users had more favourable mean Healthy Eating Index scores and nutrient intakes for 12 of the 13 vitamins and minerals investigated.
  • Supplement use was positively associated with older age (≥70 years) and female gender, and negatively associated with current smoking.
  • Individuals scoring higher on the total fruit, whole grain, and oil components of the Healthy Eating Index were significantly more likely to take supplements, while those scoring higher on the Meat and Beans category were significantly less likely to take supplements.
  • Compared to those with less than a high school education, survivors with a professional or graduate degree were significantly more likely to use supplements.


  • Results from the present study indicate a high prevalence of dietary supplement use among elderly, long-term survivors of female breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer who are interested in lifestyle modification and health promotion. 


Editors Notes

  • The investigators report that supplement use may reduce the prevalence of nutrient inadequacies in this population, though survivors who use supplements are the least likely to need them.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health, existing evidence is insufficient to establish firm recommendations concerning the use of multivitamin-multimineral supplements for chronic disease prevention in the general population.