New research has found that taking a daily multivitamin pill reduces the risk of cancer in men. The study monitored 15,000 men aged 50 and above over a period of more than ten years, and said that those who took vitamin pills were less likely to be diagnosed with cancer. The results of the study, conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and, were revealed in a journal published by the .
Some of the participants in the study were given multivitamin pills to take daily, while the rest were given sugar pills instead, which they believed were vitamins, to combat the placebo effect. 1.7% of those who took the multivitamin pills developed cancer, compared to 1.8% of those who were given the dummy pills. As the study only used older male participants, it is unknown whether multivitamins have the same effect on women or younger men, but these findings are likely to inspire wider research in this area.
In an article published on October 18 2012, the NHS website described the findings as “a clinically modest but statistically significant reduction in men’s risk of developing cancer.” The NHS therefore advise that, although this study shows that multivitamins do reduce the risk, they should not be relied on by men over 50 as the sole means of preventing cancer, and other lifestyle choices such as regular exercise and cutting back on alcohol should also be factored in.
In addition to reducing the chance of developing cancer, multivitamin pills are particularly beneficial for those with dietary imbalances or different dietary needs, for example vegans, vegetarians or people with food allergies. However, multivitamins should not replace healthy eating or be used to make up for an unhealthy diet.