Do not encourage the extensive and indiscriminate use of vitamin and mineral supplements as preventive elements for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Type of practice

Other treatments



Topic Area

Clinical Nutrition

There are strong and recent scientific evidences that don’t document a real protective effect on cancer risk from the use of vitaminic and mineral supplements. The exceptions are calcium-based supplements which appear to have a protective role on colorectal cancers and beta-carotene supplements which, on the contrary, may increase the risk of developing lung cancer in smokers. Furthermore, no advantage has been documented with high-dose antioxidants during cancer treatments, in the absence of a documented deficiency. Supplementation with vitamin and mineral supplements does not produce benefits in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in the general population. It’s recommended to communicate the supplements’ intake to doctors during visits: it can alter the results of laboratory tests even significantly.


1. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer. Diet Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective. Continuous Update Project Expert Report 2018.
2. Jann Arends, Patrick Bachmann, Vickie Baracos, Nicole Barthelemy, Hartmut Bertz, Federico Bozzetti, Ken Fearon, Elisabeth Hütterer, Elizabeth Isenring, Stein Kaasa, Zeljko Krznaric, Barry Laird, Maria Larsson, Alessandro Laviano, Stefan Mühlebach, Maurizio Muscaritoli, Line Oldervoll, Paula Ravasco, Tora Solheim, Florian Strasser, Marian de van der Schueren, Jean-Charles Preiser. ESPEN guidelines on nutrition in cancer patients. Clinical Nutrition 36 (2017) 11–48
3. Jenkins DJA et al., Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals for CVD Prevention and Treatment., J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018 Jun 5;71(22):2570-2584.
4. Kim J, Choi J, Kwon SY, McEvoy JW, Blaha MJ, Blumenthal RS, Guallar E, Zhao D, Michos ED., Association of Multivitamin and Mineral Supplementation and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis., Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2018 Jul;11(7):e004224.
5. Eichhorn T, Greten HJ, Efferth T. Self-medication with nutritional supplements and herbal over-the counter products. Nat Prod Bioprospect 2011; 1: 62–70



Attention. Please note that these items are provided only for information and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a clinician. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their clinician.