Ischaemic heart disease

No VITAL signs for Vit D, omega-3 in CV events, cancer

Wednesday, 14 Nov 2018

Omega-3 and vitamin D supplements have failed to show any benefit in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease or cancers, research presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions this week shows.

The results were simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL (VITAL) trial involved 25,871 men and women age 50 and older. Participants who received vitamin D3 at 2000 IU per day and those who received 1 g of marine n-3 fatty acids (omega-3) per day did not have a significantly lower incidence of the primary outcome measures of invasive cancer of any type and major CV events over 5 years of follow-up compared with those who received placebo.

See full trial results here and here.

Writing in an accompanying editorial John F. Keaney Jr, MD, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, and Clifford J. Rosen, MD, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Scarborough, wrote that despite the negative findings regarding the trials primary end points, the secondary end points will undoubtedly draw attention.

“It will be tempting to note the lower incidence of myocardial infarction and of death from myocardial infarction with n−3 fatty acids than with placebo and the lower mortality from cancer with vitamin D than with placebo and then to cite these findings as evidence that these supplements can benefit some patients in preventing coronary heart disease or cancer death,” they wrote. However, they warned that these “positive” results should be interpreted with caution.

“In the absence of additional compelling data, it is prudent to conclude that the strategy of dietary supplementation with either n−3 fatty acids or vitamin D as protection against cardiovascular events or cancer suffers from deteriorating VITAL signs.”


Dr. Peter Block interviews presenter Dr. JoAnn Manson regarding the results of vitamin D and omega-3 supplementation in the primary prevention of CVD and cancer.

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