Today’s Headlines: Multivitamins, Mosquito Virus and Cancer Drugs

Multivitamins found to have little benefit: Two new clinical trials showed that multivitamins were not effective at staving off chronic disease, prompting experts to write an editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine urging people to avoid them. The studies “showed multivitamins had no effect on cognitive function or cardiovascular health” and come on the heels of a review that suggests that supplements have minimal health impacts for “generally well-nourished, Western populations.” Multivitamin sales rose 2.5% last year, and 40% of Americans said they took multivitamins or minerals between 2003 and 2006. Other experts disputed these claims, pointing to other studies showing that certain vitamins may have health benefits. (The Wall Street Journal)

CDC issues warning about painful virus from mosquitoes: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned travelers to St. Martin in the Caribbean to take precautions against the Chikungunya virus. The mosquito-borne virus is not usually fatal but “can cause a very bad headache, joint pain, rash and fever.” It has been spreading from Africa to other world regions, has been confirmed in 10 people in St. Martin and is “very likely to end up in the United States,” according to the CDC. “A study last year predicted that it’s possible a single, infected person could start an outbreak of Chikungunya in New York once Asian tiger mosquitoes become more common in the city.” The virus has “no vaccine and no specific treatment.” (NBC News)

Many doctors report trouble getting cancer drugs: “More than eight in 10 U.S. cancer specialists have struggled to find the drugs they need to best treat their patients, a new survey has found.” Drugs needed for chemotherapy to treat colon cancer, breast cancer and leukemia are included in the shortages. “Such shortages have happened in the U.S. since 2006 but have been becoming more common.” The low supply of these cancer drugs may “happen because a company didn’t make enough of a given drug. Or the company could be trying to get more people to use a more profitable drug instead of a less profitable one.” Some studies suggest that switching from a standard chemotherapy drug to a substitute could be linked to higher death rates. (Reuters)