Harvard Health Letter

Multivitamin use may reduce cancer risk

We think of multivitamins as a means to supplement any nutritional deficiencies in our diet. A recent Harvard study published online Oct. 17, 2012, in The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that multivitamins may also affect cancer risk. The study involved almost 15,000 male physicians who were followed for 11 years. Those who took the multivitamin experienced an 8% reduction in the number of cancers that they developed. Because the study was a randomized trial, it is possible that the multivitamins actually caused the reduced rate of cancer. Researchers suggested that the benefits of vitamins and minerals in multivitamin supplements may mirror those found in vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, which also have been associated with lower cancer rates in previous studies. The study could not address the question of which vitamins within the multivitamin pill were linked to the lower rates of cancer.

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