Cancer Prevention Program

VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) Study: A Cohort Study of Dietary Supplements and Cancer Risk

PI: Emily White, PhD

Vitamin and mineral supplements are among the most commonly used drugs in the US. Many consumers use supplements to prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, but with few exceptions, there is sparse evidence for either their benefits or risks. The aims of this cohort study are to investigate the associations of supplement use with cancer risk. Specific aims focus on the associations of vitamin C, E, calcium, multivitamins, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and other supplements with prostate, breast, lung, colorectal, melanoma, bladder, blood/lymph and total cancer incidence and total mortality.

Participant recruitment and exposure assessments were funded in 1999 and are now complete. Between 2000-2002, 77,738 men and women, aged 50-76 from western Washington State completed a baseline questionnaire. This included detailed information on use of 38 supplements over the past 10 years, diet, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use, anthropometrics, exercise, health history and cancer risk factors. 54,045 participants also provided DNA, which constitutes one of the largest US DNA specimen bank, for genetic studies.

We continue to follow-up the cohort for outcomes, using cost-effective methods. Specifically, cancers are ascertained by linkage to the western Washington SEER cancer registry, deaths by linkage to the Washington State death file, and out-migration from the SEER catchment area by linkage to the National Change of Address file. About 1000 new cancers are identified each year. The study results will add information to help guide the 100,000,000 adult Americans who take supplements. The study data and specimens are also available as a resource for additional studies by scientists at the Hutchinson Center and elsewhere.

For more information, please call Dr. Emily White, Principal Investigator, at 206-667-4685.