Dr. JoAnn Manson and Dr. Julie Buring, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital will be conducting a large study to examine if vitamin D and fish oil supplements reduce the risk of developing cancer or heart disease.
The $20 million study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is looking to enroll at least 20,000 people. Around 25% of the participants will be black as this segment of the population has higher rates of cancer, heart disease, and stroke when compared with whites.
"African-Americans have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency and a greater frequency of certain types of cancer and diabetes and hypertension, so I think that it will be of great importance to look at whether something as simple as taking a vitamin D supplement can narrow these health gaps,'' said Manson.
The study will include women over the age of 65 and men over the age of 60. These participants will be assigned into four groups. One group will be given 2,000 international units of vitamin D and about 1 gram of fish oil, while one group will be given one of the supplements. The remaining two groups will receive a placebo.
The recruitment will begin in August and all forms and pills will be mailed to the participants from www.vitalstudy.org.