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HEALTHLINE

A RECENT REPORT on vitamin supplements, touted as deterrents for almost everything from cancer to aging, cautions that less may be more.

In reviewing studies done on vitamins A, C, folic acid and antioxidants, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that there is insufficient evidence to support their use as preventives for cancer and heart disease.

Some studies showed hat too much vitamin A may actually reduce bone density or damage the liver. Additional beta carotene, which has been recommended for those who smoke, may have a negative rather than positive impact, the agency reported.

People who use vitamins to ward off disease typically take megadoses. Recommended Daily Allowances of vitamins, however, may be necessary for those whose diets don't provide enough nutrients or for pregnant and nursing women, the report said.

People should talk to their doctors about dosage and generally stick to the Recommended Daily Allowances until more research is in, the report said. More information is available at www.ahrg.gov.

The review was done by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of private-sector experts sponsored by the agency. The task force assesses scientific evidence, primarily for physicians, on a range of preventive health issues.

HEALTH MAGAZINE has named the Top 10 Healthiest Companies for Women in the United States. Contenders were evaluated in six benefits areas: programs or policies for preventive health, fitness, weight management, career mobility and work/life balance, and office culture.

Results are published in the magazine's current issue. The companies are:

1. Clif Bar Inc., Berkeley, Calif. (117 employees; 65 percent female)

2. Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, N.J. (18,290 employees; 49 percent female)

3. SC Johnson, Racine, Wis. (3,364 employees; 37 percent female)

4. ARUP Laboratories, Salt Lake City (1,471 employees; 59 percent female)

5. Genetech, San Francisco (5,400 employees, 51 percent female)

6. New York Life Insurance Co., New York City (7,512 employees; 54 percent female)

7. Roche, Nutley, N.J. (4,992 employees, 51 percent female)

8. Verizon Wireless, Bedminster, N.J. (41,670 employees, 52 percent female)

9. Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vt. (160 employees, 53 percent female)

10. Guidant Corp., Indianapolis (11,029 employees, 47 percent female)

_ Staff writer SUSAN ASCHOFF and Times wires

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