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New Health Benefits of the MultiVitamin Discovered

Oct 18th, 2012
Staff Writer

Multivitamins may have found a new reason for popularity.Dietary investigations have concluded that many people have nutrient-deficient eating habits. Enter the multivitamin. The capsules contain a huge variety of vitamins and minerals meant to improve overall health, but never has a specific effect of these supplements before been substantiated by medical literature. Today, the multivitamin has earned a place among a special class of preventative medicine: a combatant of one of the most mysterious and deadly human diseases.

Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School published the cumulation of over a decade of work yesterday, October 17th, with the JAMA Network Journal. The team of scientists contacted thousands of male physicians in 1997 for participation in their investigation of the multivitamin.

Participants totaled 14,641 by the end of the study, all males aged 50 years and older. The double blind investigators mailed subjects vitamins (Centrum Silver) or placebos in the mail, and asked for their daily administration. In June of 2011, the investigation was ended. Annual questionnaires answered by participants were analyzed; results were computed.

Of the original 14,641 subjects, 2,669 developed cancer. Cancer rates were 17 per 1,000 in the multivitamin group and 18.3 per 1,000 in the placebo group, indicating a statistically significant result, according the the randomized trial. Men with parental history of cancer did not see any reduction in cancer rates with multivitamin.

Multivitamins are the most popular dietary supplement in the United States, taken by at least 1/3 of US adults. This trend seems to disregard the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: “For the general healthy population, there is no evidence to support a recommendation for the use of multivitamin/mineral supplements in the primary prevention of chronic disease.”

This study’s results provide a decent volume of evidence that contradicts that claim, and asserts at least some multivitamin-related affect. This point is the author’s conclusion: “Although the main reason to take multivitamins is to prevent nutritional deficiency, these data provide support for the potential use of multivitamin supplements in the prevention of cancer in middle-aged and older men.”