Daily Multivitamin Usage Cut Cancer Risk By 8% in Men


Dr. Dean Rising, 72, of Springfield, Mo., took daily pills for 30 years as part of his participation in two phases of the Physicians’ Health Study.

A new study following men has shown that taking multivitamins daily reduced the total risk of cancer by 8%. The study used Centrum Silver multivitamin, and included nearly 15,000 male doctors older than 50 and followed them for up to 13 years.

There appears to be a modest reduction in cancer among middle-aged and older men. The study also found that multivitamin use cut site-specific cancers, except for prostate cancer, by 12% and suggested a 12% reduction in deaths caused by cancer. However, this last figure wasn’t statistically significant.

The study used new data from the Physicians Health Study II published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the CDC, more than half of US adults use dietary supplements, and the most common one is a daily multivitamin.

Recent studies have looked at whether vitamins such as C, E and B12 could prevent cancer. They didn’t come up with any significant results, and some even found a higher risk of certain illnesses.

The researchers state that those studies were limited in scope and size. They also used single supplements at high doses, compared to how much a daily vitamin provides.

The Physicians’ Health Study II is the only large-scale, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial testing the long term effects of common multivitamins. The study included 14,641 men, all doctors, who received a pack of daily supplements or dummy pills between July 1997 and June 2011.

Boosting nutrition, even with daily vitamins, could have far-reaching health benefits. The trial only included men who were healthier than the general population and excluded women. A similar study in women could determine whether cancer risk is also reduced.

Reference: “Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men: The Physicians’ Health Study II Randomized Controlled Trial” by J. Michael Gaziano, MD, MPH; Howard D. Sesso, ScD, MPH; William G. Christen, ScD; Vadim Bubes, PhD; Joanne P. Smith, BA; Jean MacFadyen, BA; Miriam Schvartz, MD; JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH; Robert J. Glynn, ScD and Julie E. Buring, ScD, 14 November 2012, Journal of the American Medical Association.
DOI: 10.1001/jama.2012.14641

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