Study: Multivitamins Reduce Cancer Among Men

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Have you been taking your multivitamins? Me neither. But a new study suggests that multivitamins can reduce the long-term risk of cancer in men. Aaron Carroll runs it down for us:

Here’s the gist. They rounded up more than 14,000 doctors 50 years or older in 1997 and randomized them to get a daily multivitamin or placebo, and then they followed them through June of 2011. Otherwise, they did nothing to these participants, so there’s every reason to believe they were otherwise treated similarly. They wanted to see if the two groups developed cancer at different rates. They did.

Men who took a daily multivitamin had a statistically significant lower rate of cancer than those who took the placebo (17.0 versus 18.3 events per 1000 person-years)….This was an extremely large study, well done, with amazing follow-up. You can’t dismiss it easily.

The chart below shows the difference in cancer rates for men with and without a baseline history of cancer. Technically, there was no statistically significant difference between the cancer and non-cancer groups because the sample size of the cancer group was fairly small. But statistics be damned. It sure looks to me that you should really think hard about taking a multivitamin if you have a previous history of cancer. The adjusted hazard ratio in this group was 27% lower than the placebo group. In the non-cancer group it was only 6% lower.

Also: if you have no parental history of cancer, multivitamins had a big effect. The hazard ratio in this group was 14% lower than in the placebo group.

As Aaron says, “Multivitamins are cheap. You can buy them by the barrel at Costco. There are few harms or side effects.” In other words, there’s probably no reason not to take them, and there might be a big benefit. The full study is here.

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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