The use of multivitamins remains popular among many consumers, but the million dollar question still remains: Do they work? Many skeptics would say no, and the lack of scientific evidence around multivitamin use supports their response -- but soon, this may change.
Americans, especially, love their vitamins. If you enter a health food store, you may easily become overwhelmed by the variety of supplements available. Why the obsession? Well, my guess would be that people want a quick fix to health, protection against diseases such as cancer, or something to supplement what they're lacking in their unhealthy diets.
A recent report by researchers at Harvard University indicates that taking a standard multivitamin daily for more than a decade may reduce the risk of developing cancer.
The Harvard-based, double-blind study began in 1997, with approximately 15,000 male physicians aged 50 and older, who either took a daily multivitamin (Centrum Silver) or a placebo. Once the trail was over, study participants were given knowledge of the study drug.
During the trial period, 1,379 men in the placebo group developed some form of cancer, compared to 1,290 men in the multivitamin group. This number represents an 8 percent reduction in cancer. It's important to note that the rate of prostate cancer remained the same in both groups.
“This modest reduction could be the result of addressing micronutrient deficiencies,” said Howard D. Sesso, co-principal investigator of the study, and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Sesso goes on to say that it's also possible low doses of several vitamins and minerals might work together in other ways to prevent cancer.
Although this may be great news for some, skeptics may still be raising their eyebrows. Many of the men who participated in this study were healthy male physicians. Also, the study did not incorporate women, or people who may not be considered as healthy. So, other factors may need to be considered before reaching a conclusion regarding the efficacy of multivitamin supplementation.
I, for one, am not looking for a quick fix, nor do I have an unhealthy diet, but I take a multivitamin daily. It provides me with a little extra insurance that I’m helping to supplement anything that is lacking. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods contain natural cancer-fighting substances where multivitamins fall short, so I like to protect myself with both!
How do you feel about multivitamin supplementation? Do you find that patients are concerned with taking a daily multivitamin?