After a series of conflicting reports about whether vitamin pills can stave off chronic disease, a large clinical trial of nearly 15,000 older male doctors followed for more than a decade found that those taking a daily multivitamin experienced 8 percent fewer cancers than the subjects taking dummy pills.
This clinical trial examined whether a common daily multivitamin had an effect on overall cancer risk. This was one of the largest and longest efforts to address questions about vitamin use.
About half of all Americans take some form of a vitamin supplement, and at least one-third take a multivitamin. The American Cancer Society recommends that people eat a balanced diet, but that those who take supplements choose a balanced multivitamin that contains no more than 100 percent of the daily value of most nutrients.
It is a small overall effect, but other than quitting smoking, there’s not much else out there that has shown it will reduce your cancer risk by nearly 10 percent.
Multivitamin use had no effect on the incidence of prostate cancer, which was the most common cancer diagnosed in the study participants. When researchers looked at the effect of vitamin use on all other cancers, they found a 12 percent reduction in occurrence. Overall cancer deaths were reduced among vitamin users.
Bottom Line: A multivitamin is an inexpensive option for good health. If you don’t overdo it, it may be beneficial in reducing your risk of cancer. If you combine vitamins, exercise, and a healthy diet, you are on the road to a healthy lifestyle. Oh, and one more thing: alcohol in moderation and no smoking!
This study was reported online in The Journal of the American Medical Association.