A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that middle-aged and older men who took a daily multivitamin for a year had a slightly lower incidence of cancer than men who took a placebo during the same time period. However, by slightly lower, they mean that with the multivitamin group, there were 17 cancers per 1,000 people, and in the sugar pill group, there were 18 cancers per 1,000 in data collected by doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Doctors and experts alike are quick to warn that while this result may indicate multivitamins as potentially preventative of cancer, the decreased cancer may also be attributed to pure chance. In fact, some studies have shown that multivitamins can actually have the effect of increasing cancer cases among men.
While doctors recommend daily vitamins for certain groups, including people who over age 65 or those deficient in some specific mineral, the resounding advice for the common person is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. When consuming the appropriate amount of fruits and vegetables, average individuals take in all of the vitamins and minerals they need through food. Additionally, vitamins consumed in this manner are more easily absorbed by the body, which may make them more beneficial to health in the long run. The findings of this study are not necessarily applicable to young men, or to women, and the scientific community is divided on the risks and benefits of multivitamins toward cancer. Some studies show that taking a multivitamin can be harmful, while others show that there is no benefit in reducing cancer risk. While this study is another step towards defining the relationship, healthy people taking multivitamins may want to take its findings with a grain of salt (or supplement) as the case may be.
Source courtesy Reuters.