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Changes in vitamin and mineral supplement use after breast cancer diagnosis in the Pathways Study: a prospective cohort study

Greenlee, Heather; Kwan, Marilyn; Ergas, Isaac; Strizich, Garrett; Roh, Janise; Wilson, Allegra; Lee, Marion; Sherman, Karen; Ambrosone, Christine; Hershman, Dawn L.; Neugut, Alfred L.; Kushi, Lawrence

Background: Vitamin and mineral supplement use after a breast cancer diagnosis is common and controversial. Dosages used and the timing of initiation and/or discontinuation of supplements have not been clearly described. Methods: We prospectively examined changes in use of 17 vitamin/mineral supplements in the first six months following breast cancer diagnosis among 2,596 members (28% non-white) of Kaiser Permanente Northern California. We used multivariable logistic regression to examine demographic, clinical, and lifestyle predictors of initiation and discontinuation. Results: Most women used vitamin/mineral supplements before (84%) and after (82%) diagnosis, with average doses far in excess of Institute of Medicine reference intakes. Over half (60.2%) reported initiating a vitamin/mineral following diagnosis, 46.3% discontinuing a vitamin/mineral, 65.6% using a vitamin/mineral continuously, and only 7.2% not using any vitamin/mineral supplement before or after diagnosis. The most commonly initiated supplements were calcium (38.2%), vitamin D (32.01%), vitamin B6 (12.3%) and magnesium (11.31%); the most commonly discontinued supplements were multivitamins (17.14%), vitamin C (15.97%) and vitamin E (45.62%). Higher education, higher intake of fruits/vegetables, and receipt of chemotherapy were associated with initiation (p-values <0.05). Younger age and breast-conserving surgery were associated with discontinuation (p-values <0.05). Conclusions: In this large cohort of ethnically diverse breast cancer patients, high numbers of women used vitamin/mineral supplements in the 6 months following breast cancer diagnosis, often at high doses and in combination with other supplements. The immediate period after diagnosis is a critical time for clinicians to counsel women on supplement use.

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Epidemiology
Medicine
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September 23, 2014
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