Vitamin D and fish oil will be tested in a large, government-sponsored study to see whether either nutrient can lower a healthy person's risk of getting cancer, heart disease or having a stroke.
It will be one of the first big nutrition studies ever to target a specific racial group — blacks, who will comprise one quarter of the participants.
People with dark skin are unable to make much vitamin D from sunlight, and researchers think this deficiency may help explain why blacks have higher rates of cancer, stroke and heart disease.
The new study, which will start later this year, will enroll 20,000 people with no history of heart attacks, stroke or a major cancer — women 65 or older and men 60 or older. They will be randomly assigned to take vitamin D, fish oil, both nutrients or dummy pills for five years.
The daily dose of vitamin D will be about 2,000 international units of D-3, also known as cholecalciferol, the most active form. For fish oil, the daily dose will be about one gram — five to 10 times what the average American gets.
Participants' health will be monitored through questionnaires, medical records and in some cases, periodic in-person exams.
Researchers also plan to study whether these nutrients help prevent memory loss, depression, diabetes, osteoporosis and other problems, Buring said.
The $20 million study will be sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and other federal agencies. Pharmavite LLC of Northridge, Calif., is providing the vitamin D pills, and Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd. of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is providing the omega-3 fish oil capsules.
Steve - leave it to the government to put together another flawed study.
1) Five years is not long enough for a prevention study.
2) Why they are choosing adults over 65 years and older is beyond belief. Even if they have no history of disease, they should start much younger.
3) How will they know if it is the vitamin D or fish oil that is beneficial, harmful, or neutral if taken together?
However, I will give them credit for targeting the black population, which needs a study with these nutrients. They also are using adequate nutrient doses and sources for the study.