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4 March 2003 Annals of Internal Medicine Tip Sheet

Annals of Internal Medicine is published by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM), an organization of more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. The following highlights are not intended to substitute for articles as sources of information. For an embargoed fax of an article, call 1-800-523-1546, ext. 2656 or 215-351-2656.

Multivitamins Appear to Decrease the Frequency of Minor Infections

A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement reduced the incidence of infection and related work absenteeism among healthy people aged 45 or older, according to a new randomized, controlled trial (Article, p. 365). Of 130 people over age 45 who took either a multivitamin or a placebo (dummy pill) daily for one year, 43 percent who took the multivitamin reported getting a cold or other minor infections compared to 73 percent who took the placebo. The results were most significant in people with type 2 diabetes. In this group, only 17 percent of those who took the multivitamin reported getting an infection compared to 93 percent of those who took the placebo. An editorial notes that although millions of Americans take multivitamin and mineral supplements, few studies have documented the benefits (Editorial, p. 430).

Intentional Weight Loss Is Not Associated with Higher Death Rates

Some studies have suggested that losing weight is associated with an increased risk for death, but none have made a distinction between intentional weight loss, e.g., a deliberate attempt to lose weight by changing diet or exercise habits, and unintentional weight loss, e.g., weight lost as a result of diseases such as cancer. A new study of 6,391 overweight American adults found that people who tried to lose weight had a 24 percent lower death rate, while people who lost weight without trying had a 31 percent higher death rate (Article, p. 383). The lowest death rate was associated with modest intentional weight loss. People who were trying to lose weight had lower death rates whether they lost weight or not.

Counseling Primary Care Patients About Alcohol May Reduce Alcohol Use

(Article, p. 372.)

Review of Studies and Trials of Homeopathy Finds Scant Scientific Evidence on Effectiveness

(Academia and Clinic, p. 393.)

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