“WOW” is about all one can say when reading the findings of this study. It utilized the Gold Standard model of testing that is used in Clinical Trials – a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. But wait, it goes beyond that. It was also a large-scale, long-term study involving nearly 15,000 males over 11.2 years. A study like this is so impressive because it proves the benefits of multivitamins.
Compare this against most Clinical Trials that are used to bring multimillion and billion dollar drugs to market. They typically use a very small number of participants (20-300) over a period of 1 to 2 years. This is one of those you can frame and hang on the wall, as it is above the typical criticism that the medical field throws at multivitamin supplements, herbs, and nutrients in general.
To top it all off, it was done by researchers at Harvard Medical School and appears in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. That has to hurt. Enjoy!
“In a randomized trial that included nearly 15,000 male physicians, long-term daily multivitamin use resulted in a modest but statistically significant reduction in cancer after more than a decade of treatment and follow-up, according to a study appearing in JAMA.
The study is being published early online to coincide with its presentation at the Annual American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting.
“Multivitamins are the most common dietary supplement, regularly taken by at least one-third of U.S. adults. The traditional role of a daily multivitamin is to prevent nutritional deficiency. The combination of essential vitamins and minerals contained in multivitamins may mirror healthier dietary patterns such as fruit and vegetable intake, which have been modestly and inversely associated with cancer risk in some, but not all, epidemiologic studies. Observational studies of long-term multivitamin use and cancer end points have been inconsistent. To date, large-scale randomized trials testing single or small numbers of higher-dose individual vitamins and minerals for cancer have generally found a lack of effect,” according to background information in the article. “Despite the lack of definitive trial data regarding the benefits of multivitamins in the prevention of chronic disease, including cancer, many men and women take them for precisely this reason.”
J. Michael Gaziano, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, (and also Contributing Editor, JAMA), and colleagues analyzed data from the Physicians’ Health Study (PHS) II, the only large-scale, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial testing the long-term effects of a common multivitamin in the prevention of chronic disease. The trial includes 14,641 male U.S. physicians, initially age 50 years or older, including 1,312 men with a history of cancer at randomization, who were enrolled in a multivitamin study that began in 1997 with treatment and follow-up through June 1, 2011. Participants received a daily multivitamin or equivalent placebo. The primary measured outcome for the study was total cancer (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer), with prostate, colorectal, and other site-specific cancers among the secondary end points.
PHS II participants were followed for an average of 11.2 years. During multivitamin treatment, there were 2,669 confirmed cases of cancer, including 1,373 cases of prostate cancer and 210 cases of colorectal cancer, with some men experiencing multiple events. A total of 2,757 (18.8 percent) men died during follow-up, including 859 (5.9 percent) due to cancer. Analysis of the data indicated that men taking a multivitamin had a modest 8 percent reduction in total cancer incidence. Men taking a multivitamin had a similar reduction in total epithelial cell cancer. Approximately half of all incident cancers were prostate cancer, many of which were early stage. The researchers found no effect of a multivitamin on prostate cancer, whereas a multivitamin significantly reduced the risk of total cancer excluding prostate cancer. There were no statistically significant reductions in individual site-specific cancers, including colorectal, lung, and bladder cancer, or in cancer mortality.
Daily multivitamin use was also associated with was a reduction in total cancer among the 1,312 men with a baseline history of cancer, but this result did not significantly differ from that observed among 13,329 men initially without cancer.
The researchers note that total cancer rates in their trial were likely influenced by the increased surveillance for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and subsequent diagnoses of prostate cancer during PHS II follow-up starting in the late 1990s. “Approximately half of all confirmed cancers in PHS II were prostate cancer, of which the vast majority were earlier stage, lower grade prostate cancer with high survival rates. The significant reduction in total cancer minus prostate cancer suggests that daily multivitamin use may have a greater benefit on more clinically relevant cancer diagnoses.”
Another very important result of this study was that there were no significant effects, maybe a little gas. Considering that average number of side effects per medication is 396, multivitamins can be a good recommendation for everyone.
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