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Daily Multivitamin May Lower Cancer Risk


By , Managing Editor
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
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Another reason to take your multivitamin? A new study shows taking a multivitamin on a daily basis may reduce the risk for cancer.

The Journal of the American Medical Association released the results of a study today that showed multivitamins reduced the cancer risk by eight percent in men who had been taking them for more than a decade.

The study was led by Dr. J. Michael Gaziano of Brigham and Women's Hospital and VA Boston, who described the reduction as "modest" in published interviews. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with the multivitamins supplied by Pfizer, Inc.

Fifteen thousand men participated in the 11-year study. They were all healthy, cancer-free doctors who were age 50 or older when the study began. The men were given either packets of a popular multivitamin, or a fake multivitamin (a placebo), on a monthly basis.

At the conclusion of the study, 2,669 cases of cancer had been diagnosed, with some people experiencing more than one type of cancer. According to the Associated Press, for every 1,000 men who participated in the study per year, 17 cancers were reported among the group of multivitamin users and 18 or more among the individuals who had been taking the placebo.

The multivitamins didn't have a positive impact on prostate cancer, which accounted for 50 percent of the diagnosed cases, but did reduce the risk of other cancers by approximately 12 percent.

The study is among the first of its kind, looking at multivitamins as opposed to individual nutrients and their benefits. There hasn't been much conclusive evidence up until this point to show a direct correlation between using a supplement like a multivitamin and a lowered risk for cancer.

An 11-year study begun in 1993 and published last year in the American journal of epidemiology involving 182,099 participants saw no such risk reduction.However, more research will be needed to determine the effects of using a daily multivitamin on different age groups, genders and those with diagnosed medical conditions.

Dr. Gaziano also explained that taking a multivitamin is only part of the battle. Proper diet, exercise, quitting smoking and wearing sunscreen remain the top ways to reduce your risk for developing cancer. Supplements play a supporting role to those efforts.

If you choose to take a multivitamin, be sure to use it properly and speak with your doctor before adding one to your routine, especially if you're being treated for a diagnosed medical condition.


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