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We all dread cancer and we all want to cut down our own risk of cancer. There was a good research paper presented in the American Association for Cancer Research’s (AACR) International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.
The conference was Oct. 16 to 19 in Anaheim, Calif. This was also published simultaneously online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study was quite remarkable. Over more than a decade of follow-up, daily use of a common multivitamin tablet reduces the risk of cancer.
The data in the current study was drawn from the Physicians’ Health Study II, a large scale, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that included 14,641 male U.S. physicians who were 50 years or older when the study began 9 percent or one out of 11 participants had a history of cancer.
The multivitamin study began in 1997, with treatment and follow-up that continued through June 1, 2011.
Overall, men who took a daily multivitamin supplement had an 8 percent lower risk of cancer than men who were randomized to receive a placebo. Additionally, the death rate (mortality) from cancer was 12 percent lower in the multivitamin arm.
Men with a history of cancer appeared to derive even more benefit from the multivitamin, as they had a 27 percent lower cancer rate compared with placebo-treated men with a history of cancer.
“Given that more than 1.6 million new cancer cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, this translates into about 130,000 cancers prevented every year, and with it all the health care costs and human suffering,” commented Balz Frei, Ph.D., who was not involved in the study.
Dr. Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute, also mentioned, “It’s worth noting that the research was done with 14,600 physicians. ... This highly-educated group has a better diet, knowledge base and health habits than the average person, so it’s reasonable to believe that the impact of multivitamin use in the general population will be even greater.”
As per Howard Sesso, Sc.D., “We don’t know exactly how it works. If you look at all the previous large-scale trials in individual vitamin supplements and minerals, those were based on mega doses of a specific vitamin or mineral. Because they were testing one thing, they provided a very clear answer.
“A multivitamin is a much more broad-based approach. We were looking at lower levels, sort of the usual intake of a whole range of vitamins and minerals together in combination. It’s our feeling that it’s more the combination of the vitamins and minerals working together that might be responsible for the effect, more so than any specific component.”
I think this is the first good, large study that shows the benefit of taking one multivitamin tablet a day. I think it makes common sense, too. At the same time, healthy diet, regular exercise and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake helps.
Dr. Sunil Gandhi is a hematologist and oncologist. He is volunteer medical adviser of the Citrus Unit of American Cancer Society. Write to 521 N. Lecanto Highway, Lecanto, FL 34461, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 352-746-0707.