844114 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Daily Multivitamin May Decrease Risk of Cancer in Men

    Many adults take multivitamins in hopes that they will help them meet their nutritional needs. Most multivitamins contain a combination of essential vitamins and minerals in different amounts of each depending on the brand. They are generally taken on a daily basis and may be prescribed by a doctor or done strictly by patient choice. These vitamins are usually taken in hopes that they will help prevent illness or disease, such as cancer. Unfortunately, most observational studies have not shown a consistent benefit with taking vitamins and cancer prevention. Also, studies looking at individual vitamins and minerals have generally found little or no benefit for cancer prevention.
    Researchers wanted to better clarify the role of multivitamins for cancer prevention by performing a randomized trial. A study, called the Physicians' Health Study II, was performed to look for a potential relation between daily multivitamins and health outcomes. The study found that men who took a daily multivitamin had a lower risk of cancer.

    About the Study

    The Physician's Health Study II was a large trial that was started in 1997 and followed participants through 2011. The randomized trial included 14,641 male physicians aged 50 years or older. The physicians were assigned to either a daily multivitamin or placebo. Participants were followed over the course of the trial for development of any cancer and specifically nonmelanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. About 67% of the men were still taking the pill by the end of the trial.
    After about 11.2 years, new cancer developed in 18.2%. Men who took the multivitamin had a significantly lower rate of any type of cancer and compared to those that took placebo. Rates of cancer related deaths were lower in men taking the multivitamin, but the difference was not quite statistically significant. There was no difference when looking specifically at colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, or other specific cancers.

    How Does this Affect You?

    A randomized trial is one of the most dependable types of research. It can be used to demonstrate cause and effect. This trial is also considered more reliable because it has such a large number of participants. The study also followed participants over a long period of time which is important when looking at the development of cancer. A downside to this study was that only about two thirds of the men were still taking the pill they were supposed to take by the end of the study. Also, the fact that this study used a multivitamin with many different ingredients makes it difficult to know which element or combination of elements may have been most useful.
    According to this study, it does appear that taking a multivitamin may help reduce the risk of cancer in men. However, this does not necessarily mean that every man should be taking a multivitamin. With certain vitamins, there can be too much of a "good" thing and high doses can be harmful. The decision to start taking a multivitamin should be made with your doctor. Also, you should consider another even more beneficial option to getting your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. That is eating healthy food including plenty of fruits and vegetables.

    RESOURCES

    American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/

    American Dietetics Association http://www.eatright.org/

    References

    Gaziano JM, Sesso H, et al. Physicians' Health Study II trial. JAMA 2012 Nov 14;308(18):1871.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.