Multivitamins may help women live longer by preventing parts of their DNA from shortening, according to a new study to be published in the June 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
For this new study, a team of researchers analyzed data on 586 women participating in the Sisters Study, which included women who had breast cancer and their cancer-free siblings.
The participating women were asked about their use of vitamin supplements over a 12-year span. The researchers also took blood samples and tested DNA segments know as telomeres.
Telomeres, which are found at the tail end of chromosomes, protect chromosomes from damage. Telomeres shorten slightly when cells divide during the aging process. Researchers believe preventing this shortening could protect new cells and reduce the effects of aging.
On average, women who took a daily multivitamin had 5.1 percent longer white blood cell telomeres than those who didn't use vitamins, reports this study's lead researcher. This percentage of lengthening corresponds to nearly ten years less age-related telomere shortening.
Higher intake of antioxidant vitamins C and E from food sources like fruits and vegetables also were associated with longer telomeres.
This is the first study to provide long-term evidence that multivitamin use is associated with DNA protection among women. Further research will determine if this association is causal.
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