Multivitamins may prevent cancer in men
Researchers aren't sure that the results will be seen in other groups of people, such as women or smokers.
October 17th, 2012
10:53 AM ET

Multivitamins may prevent cancer in men

Taking a multivitamin may help prevent cancer in healthy middle-aged men, according to a new study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study

Scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School recruited nearly 15,000 male physicians, 50 years or older, and followed them for more than a decade.  Half took the daily multivitamin Centrum Silver; the others took a placebo.

Men in the vitamin group had a modest 8% reduction in cancer cases compared to the others.

"This study suggests, at least for men, that there might be benefits to taking multivitamins in terms of cancer,” study author Dr. John Michael Gaziano said in a press release. He is the chief of the Division of Aging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

"Overall the study provides the first very nice piece of evidence that well-balanced - not overdose, not mega dose - combination of vitamins and minerals seems to have an effect at preventing cancer," said Dr. Boris Pasche, director of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "But more research is needed to validate this."

The researchers were not able to determine which types of cancers might be prevented when taking the vitamins.

They are also not sure that the results will be seen in other groups of people such as women or smokers. The men in this study were generally healthy physicians, not overweight or obese and most were non-smokers.

"It will be difficult to make generalizations to the broad public from this one study, but I was impressed by the data," said Dr. Ernest Hawk, vice president and division head for the Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences at MD Anderson Center in Houston, Texas.

Vitamins: Friend or foe?

Back when the study began in 1997, most experts thought taking a vitamin would be beneficial to our health. But in the subsequent years, many scientists were alarmed by evidence suggesting potential harm from vitamin use. Newer studies found vitamin supplements didn't reduce the risk of cancer, and, in some cases, raised the risk of men and women developing cancer.

This latest study may once again lead experts to re-visit the issue.  Pasche and Hawk, who did not participate in the research, said they are encouraged that after 10 years of study researchers did not see an increase in lung, colorectal, prostate and other cancers, but rather a modest decline in overall cancer cases.

Take home message

"I think this provides more data... that these sorts of supplements aren't associated with harm, so it removes the concern that many people had about the use of vitamin supplements drawing from recent data," explained Hawk.

Why might certain supplements offer protection again cancer? Experts aren't sure but said that the well-balanced formulation of nutrients in the multivitamin instead of mega doses may be part of the answer.

Pasche, who stopped taking vitamins back in the 2000s because of the cancer scare said, "This study will make me rethink this. You have a good rational to say from this study that it's not risky and could potentially help prevent a certain number of cancers."

Hawk is more cautious with his approach. He said that reducing cancer risk may not necessarily be garnered from a pill but rather by living healthy: eating right, getting plenty of exercise and not smoking.

Video: Can multivitamins help prevent cancer?

soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. EJ

    In my opinion, based on education and first-hand experience nothing replaces food. The human body can only absorb so much at one time and the rest turns to waste, ergo the bright yellow color urine some people get. If one takes the path of raw juicing, my bet is they will have a far more positive and bioavailable experience utilizing the nutrients, all of them. The human body was not meant to take it 3000 percent of a daily requirement at one time, so if the vitamon compound is water soluble, you're wasting your time and money. although not a vitamon, look at CO-Q10. Sure, one can take CO-Q10 pills and get a fraction of the actual product, or they can simply eat a handful of blueberries and get ten times the amount in the pill available for absorption.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      Yeah, but it is easier to fill up on bacon and beefy burgers and take a multivitomin then feel good about yourself. It's harder to actually take responsability for yourself. Personally, I'm glad for the over 50% of people in US are abese. They will die off quickly and leave more space and o2 for the rest of us still living quality lives into old age.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
    • bleh64

      Wow Brad, your a heck of a guy. So by your standard no one should feel sorry for you if you contract cancer, are robbed, shot and killed in the process or hit buy a bus or killed in a car accident. Your type is on sale in the feminine hygeine aisle daily, comes in a bag and is vinegar based.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
    • He'sRight

      I agree with Brad. I'll never understand people who fatten up, smoke, treat their bodies like crap, and then end up absolutely stunned when the Doctor tells them they have major health issues. Plus, the plethora of unhealthy people in this country run up health care and insurance costs. If you're going to live hard, then don't be surprised when you die hard.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
    • Marco

      Wouldn't you face the same absorption problem if you eat the handful of blueberries all at once?

      October 17, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • john

      Yeah well I don't agree with Brad. "bleh64" is right; if Brad get some horrible disease like cancer (which can happen whether you're obese or not) then none of us should feel sorry for him. It's just "nature's" way of eliminating him so that the rest of us can enjoy life. Perhaps Brad doesn't realize that we're all build differently; some people are tall, others are short. Some people are skinny, and yes, some people are fat. Some a lot of skinny people would be fat if not for their genetics. By that I mean some people literally just lay on their ass all day, eating potato chips, never work out, and if not for their genetics, they would be obese.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Well Brad, I would agree with you if these obese people weren't a burden on our health care system. But the fact is that whether these obese people have health insurance or not, they make health care more expensive for everyone. So unless there is a national plan that says obese people can never be insured through the free market or by the government, they will continue to make health care cost rise for everyone in this country regardless of the type of health care system we have. Those 50% of obese people that will die quickly you speak of will cost the United States, collectively, hundreds of thousands of dollars more than a non obese person before they die (now multiply that by millions. So its not good that they get sick and die early. It is actually extremely detrimental to our society and economy. Unless their is a private health care plan for obese people that they themselves pay for (which obviously isnt possible) than they will always burden the health care system. What we need to do is reduce obesity rates. I will let you ponder on how to do that.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      Is it possible that the reason for there being 3000% of a nutrient is to guarantee the consumer absorbs at least 100%? If that is the case, it hardly seems like throwing your money away. You (in this case) wouldn't be buying more than you need, because (presumably, if this is how it works) consuming 100% of a nutrient in the same form would only allow for a fraction of it to be absorbed.

      October 17, 2012 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • meandmyownself

      The unhealthy individuals save the rest of us money. Their early deaths come with higher health care costs up front but that is more than made up for with savings from Social Security payments and years less of regular checkups, etc.

      October 17, 2012 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
    • TakeYourVitaminsandSayYourPrayers


      Something doesn't add up, DJ.

      October 17, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • Or

      *** *** *** *** ***
      If you want to prevent or slowly cure cancer, just smoke marijuana. (Look up medical cannabis on Wikipedia)
      *** *** *** *** ***

      October 17, 2012 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
    • Me2!!!

      Anything that are "Berries" can and will prevent cancer. Black/Blueberries, cranberries, Raspberries and many more. Eating stuff that uses heavy preservatives or artificial ways for growth may contribute to an abnormal growth of cells, but prevention is key for survival. If there’s a history of cancer on your family then beware and don’t make the same mistakes (ignoring the fact that you’re in higher risk than normal) – Hopefully in the next decade or so there will be an effective treatment and maybe a Vaccine so until then have a good diet (very hard) – Exercise (extremely hard for most ppl) and ditch the stress out (work/Fam) –

      Also the Pineapple Juice has special properties (Bromelain ver by studies) that prevents cancel cells for forming.
      Please for the love of God... Rhino Horns don’t cure cancer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thnks

      October 17, 2012 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
    • Oh really?

      @OR – Or you could just ask Brad. He's smoking something. And it's not helping him spell.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      There's a lot of Nutritional Supplement company people on these forums distorting the facts.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      " the path of raw juicing"

      Quack, quack, quack.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:36 | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Hand

      @meandmyownself – Hmm, you might be on to something there. But then again, the amount of Medicare expended trying to artificially keep them aliive at the natural end of their lives will probably outweigh any social security benefit we may reap.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
    • ruck1707

      first off, buy a multivitamin that is Time Released to give you sufficient amount of vitamins throughout the day. You're urine will become bright yellow/green due to the high B-Vitamin content of those vitamins, people absorb vitamins at different rates, a 275lb lineman in the NFL will absorb more than a 145lb computer tech, but they make these vitamins to cover everybody, so of course the 145 computer tech will absorb less, less body mass. The more active you are also the higher of vitamins a person needs. It's nearly impossible to get your complete vitamins via your diet. First off, I doubt hardly anybody gets their 5 servings of Fruits and 6 servings of Vegetables per day. Even if you did, the pesticides and hormones induced into the fruits/veggies/meats tends to denature certain key vitamins/minerals and also via cooking your veggies denatures a lot of the nutrients. It's best to only steam your veggies not fry them. Also if you're looking to get CoQ-10 from blueberries you'll be disappointed cause you need to eat oily fish, organ based products such as liver, and whole grains to get CoQ-10 not blueberries.
      I have my Kinesiology Degree and am studying for my Masters in Nutrition.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • nick

      @Brad – agree with you. For the rest, stop denying and cajouling irresponsible people / behavior. Get real.

      October 17, 2012 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
    • zandhcats

      Brad, I agreed part of your statements, however, people with obesity are have more complex deceases and suffer more before they deceased which cost more to the society. We need to take care of our body before putting bacon into our mouth, blaming others intervene their life styles, is not the solution.

      October 17, 2012 at 15:14 | Report abuse |
    • Maryanne

      I'd like to add a particular point about absorption of nutrients from food. As we age, out natural digestive enzymes become increasingly reduced and that prevents our food from being broken down in the digestive system and thus prevents effective absorption of various nutrients from our diets, despite how healthy and well balanced they might be. The same can be said of pill-delivered nutrients. Consequently, we need to also supplement with a comprehensive digestive enzyme.

      October 17, 2012 at 15:32 | Report abuse |
  2. ig nor anus

    Time to buy stock in Centrum Silver?

    October 17, 2012 at 11:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Josh

      Or at least the time to buy a bottle.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • ruck1707

      Centrum is the worst vitamin you could buy

      October 17, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • soulcatcher

      It could just be from the water taken with the vitamin supplement.

      October 17, 2012 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
    • zandhcats

      According to my doc.,it's not enough to fulfill the needs of our body, for instance, for female we need 1200 mg in calcium, but Centrum only contain small amount of everything in one tablet, it's a sort of wasteful. I take fish oil, vitamin D(I used to have lower level),calcium, and B6. But I take every of it in half of the suggestions, b/c I eat pretty health and exercise regular. My annual physical checkup is great. Most important, I also don't when another med study will point out again all the vitamin supplements are bad to us.

      October 17, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
  3. John Gotti

    News Alert: Dick Durbin's pitch to turn over supplements to the FDA was killed in the senate. That CNN, a propaganda arm of the DNC, continues to spew misinformation about "dangerous" supplements is the news here: Big Pharm has some further strategy to get control over supplements, or CNN would not still be talking about them. And if CNN really cared to tell us anything truly useful, they would write about how many Americans, every year, die from liver failure as a result of Tylenol/acetominophin and from internal bleeding as a result of ibruprophen/aspirin/advil (the figures are in the thousands, by the way). The reader will observe that a score of people dying from tainted steroids is huge news; thousands of people dying from FDA approved OTC pain killers is not worth mentioning. Wonder why not?

    October 17, 2012 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      Yeah, but most of those deaths are most likely due to people taking more then they are supposed to, or taking one for every little tiney ache and pain. Most people are incredibly stupid, and do not read the directions, or ask a physician if it is ok to take with their prescribed medicine. Then their are those who just have a bad reaction to it. I've taken medicine that I had a bad reaction to, I immediatly stoped before it could do damage. Others can take that pill with no problem. See, it's easy to throw figures around, but what are the real reasons?

      October 17, 2012 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
    • longtooth

      Brad, although you "immediatly stoped" taking a certain medicine, I'm afraid you stoped too late.

      October 17, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
    • dicky durbin

      cnn is definitely the home of the antichrist – spewing antimiddle-class venom to support socialist o'bama amerika for the minority and mulato masses.

      October 17, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse |
    • ColoradoDad

      Not to trivialize those who have actually died as a result of taking OTC medicines and/or vitamins. But we need to keep this in perspective. If 10000 people die a year out of a few hundred million who take them, i'd consider this a success. Statistically the numbers are so low that they are mostly an anomaly. I just don't get why people do this, try to ban substances because 1 out of 1million people died from taking it. Just plain silly.

      October 17, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • glj

      @ColoradoDad, let me ask you this - if your family member died from taking one of these products, what would your reaction be? But hey, why ban it, they are just one of the 1 in a million. Remember you do not want it taken off the shelf because it only affects one in a million. A little different when it affects your family isn't it? Hope it never does.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
  4. bobincal

    Early in the article they say
    “The researchers were not able to determine which types of cancers might be prevented when taking the vitamins.”

    Then later
    “After 10 years of study researchers did not see an increase in lung, colorectal, prostate and other cancers”

    So which is it? Did they track the cancers by type or not?

    Then again
    “Reducing cancer risk may not necessarily be garnered from a pill but rather by living healthy: eating right, getting plenty of exercise and not smoking.”

    Were the groups controlled for their healthy living, eating, and exercise and smoking habits? If the only thing they looked at was vitamin consumption, the study was very poorly designed!

    October 17, 2012 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • FranOS

      Working in the healthcare and around research, your comments:

      1. Then again ... "Reducing cancer risk may not necessarily be garnered from a pill but rather by living healthy: eating right, getting plenty of exercise and not smoking.” Were the groups controlled for their healthy living, eating, and exercise and smoking habits? If they only thing they looked at was vitamin consumption, the study was very poorly designed!


      2. Did the study take into account the lifestyle of those who took multivitamins? I would suspect that those taking the multivitamins had a lower smoking rate, exercised more often and more nutritionally knowledgeable than the placebo group.

      hits the nail straight on the head. Now we will have millions going out to buy vitaimin / mineral supplements, expecting to decrease their risk for cancer WITHOUT making any lifestyle changes. Thank you bob incal and also lobo joe's for comments that should have been emphatically emphasized for any release of this study!!!

      October 17, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse |
    • E-Pain

      All of your questions were answered in the article for you. This was a collection of 15,000 physicians who I would assume understand that smoking is bad for you and that it is important to live a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet. And two, every one of the physicians in this study took a "Vitamin". Half of the physicians were given real vitamins, while the others were given a placebo; or a pill that wasn't really a vitamin.

      Also, I'd like to add that 15,000 participants in a statistical survey such as this is a more than adequate sample size...

      October 17, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Statistics are tricky things. When you subdivide groups, you lose power. So they can say "less cancer OVERALL" (with 95% confidence) but not "less lung cancer."

      October 17, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
  5. iceload9

    "It will be difficult to make generalizations" more than the generalizations we've already made. But as long as you call it a "study" you get money for it.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. wondering

    You people never seem to learn that genes play a big part in your life expectancy and taking care of yourself does not necessarily mean a long and healthy life. What about children who get cancer or other diseases and die. Is that fair? Live like you are dying and enjoy what time you have. It is just a micro-time to the universe.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michael Addition

      Who are you calling "you people"?

      October 17, 2012 at 12:43 | Report abuse |
    • zandhcats

      Don't buy the genes and don't use it as a reason to indulge yourself in junks. Never seen a fattie who eat healthy and exercise but still fat.

      October 17, 2012 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
  7. orion7x

    Its funny but tomorrow there will be an article saying that Multivitamines cause cancer in men. Flip, flop...

    October 17, 2012 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ColdWarVet75

      Orion, read my post below. They already did.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • glj

      Yeah I quit believing in the studies long ago. One group will say something to try and funding. The a few years later someone else comes up with another theory to get their funding.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:22 | Report abuse |
  8. Dan

    The real criminal activity in the U.S. (other than illegally entering the country of course), is that the U.S. government doesn't have the guts to regulate supplements.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeaux Bleaus

      The LAST thing we need is for the pharma-controlled "government" to be regulating supplements. That is, unless we want to LOSE ALL ACCESS to anything remotely effective.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
  9. ColdWarVet75

    Now I am confused. Several months back, a study was released that excessive doses of Vitamin E were shown to increase the risk of Prostate Cancer in men. Centrum provides 200% of the daily requirement of Vitamin E. Why would they make these super vitamins. Like in "Big Bang Therory", Sheldon told Penny all she was buying was expensive urine with multi-vitamins.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dicky durbin

      considering everything, I think expensive urine is better then half the garbage CNN promotes. Down with CNN and its Muslim O'bama agenda. Deport him back to Kenya.

      October 17, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • ColoradoDad

      @dicky HEY, your tinfoil cap fell off again!

      October 17, 2012 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      The study you're referring to was measuring the effect of doses 20 times the RDA for vitamin E; it also noted that the incidence of prostate cancer is very low throughout the study, so the increase seen – ~17% – may or may not be significant.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
  10. Jack Johnson

    A balanced diet, reasonable exercise, and 4 or 5 multivitamins a week couldn't prevent a non-smoker from feeling an edge on the herd of humanity.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Realkman

    What do the men who took the placebo think about this test?

    October 17, 2012 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Harald

    The study doesn't really tell us much. First, the 8 % vs. the control group isn't a big difference.
    Secondly, if the benefit is real, what exactly was it that caused the 8 % lower cancer rate ? Who says, that a multivitamin product is needed ? Maybe it was just one component of the product that was responsible for the benefit. Such a study, doesn't sound very scientific to me.
    Last but not least, one also has to question, whether a balanced diet wouldn't result in similar or even better results (by the way, the diet of the participants, most likely varied a lot from one to another, which is just another variable that can influence the end result.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • matthias9119

      "The study doesn't really tell us much. First, the 8 % vs. the control group isn't a big difference."

      The difference was statistically significant. If you lowered the rate of cancer by 8% in the US that would be a huge number of people affected per year.

      "Secondly, if the benefit is real, what exactly was it that caused the 8 % lower cancer rate ? Who says, that a multivitamin product is needed ? Maybe it was just one component of the product that was responsible for the benefit."

      True, but the result they had is still valid and useful.

      "Last but not least, one also has to question, whether a balanced diet wouldn't result in similar or even better results"

      I'm not sure what that has to do with whether the results of this study are valid. X or X+Y potentially being better than Y doesn't mean that Y has no benefit.

      "(by the way, the diet of the participants, most likely varied a lot from one to another, which is just another variable that can influence the end result."

      But that should be independent of whether an individual was getting the vitamins or a placebo. ie, even if diet makes a difference, there should be roughly the same number of "good diet" people and "bad diet" people in the control and experimental groups. If the vitamins made no difference the groups should have had the same result.

      October 17, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      "doesn't sound very scientific to me."

      Why not? Do you understand how science operates? It doesn't sound like it.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
  13. sfr53

    The folks saying this is the first study of this kind should read the book:

    How to Prevent and Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine by Dr. Michael Murray

    October 17, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Johnny 5

    Multivitamin sales must be down.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Mentallect

    To me, the fact is that vitamins are generally beneficial. It is virtually impossible to get the RDA of all vitamins and minerals without becoming obese. I was reviewing the back of Total cereal which is one of the two most vitamin enhanced foods on earth, and the massive amount of sugar and preservatives annoyed me. Americans eat far too much on average. A multivitamin makes sense because reality dictates advice not hypothetical wish it was logic.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Dave T

    Why do some cancers return and others do not? I read Senator Specter had non-Hodgkins Lymphoma before he passed away. I had the same disease back 12 years ago and have been Cancer free ever since. I guess a report is true that eating healthy foods seem to help people going through chemo treatments. I had 6 treatments of CHOPP, 3 weeks apart, for a total of 6 treatments in 2000. I used to frequently visit one restaurant, soon after each chemo session, and ordered the following foods. It would include fish, baby carrots, collard greens, pinto beans and orange juice. I was lucky to afford these meals; however, many may not. It was also not during the cold and flu season. Perhaps it may be better to eat at home. If you frequent public places like restaurants and grocery stores, you are exposed to more germs; especially during the cold and flu season. For people to eat at home, too many times, cancer patients feel extreme fatigue to buy and serve these meals. As a thought, many major grocery stores now have catering services. Can a new partnership between the health insurance/cancer center and these caterers, be created to serve healthy meals at patients homes? Second, have they also done research, on the affects of vitamin D levels, in post cancer patients? It has been almost 12 years since my last chemo. I thought I read, the best way to manage your weight, is to exercise outdoors. You absorb, lots of vitamin D, from the sun. I like to bike and walk outdoors; whenever the weather allows it. I have a good tan from April to October. I joke with my wife, that I am absorbing anti-Lymphoma medicine from the sun. Is it possible, high vitamin D levels, can reduce many cancers from returning? Is it true, that people can better manage their weight, if they exercise outdoors? Therefore, by exercising outdoors, people can absorb some sun; while better managing their weight. What are the experts' thoughts on this? In conclusion, I am hoping to share my cancer experience that will lead to more people living cancer free for good. Perhaps these clues have already been studied. Now I realize what worked for me will not work for everyone else. However, can vitamin D from the sun help prevent new cancers and prevent old cancer from returning? Can the vitamins you get from eating healthy foods help as well?

    October 17, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeaux Bleaus

      Have your 25-OH (D) level checked twice a year and take D3 supplements when no sun is available. Blood levels of 50-100 ng/ml have been recommended for optimal health.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
  17. Feminist

    Why is a Women's Hospital doing studies on men? And when will a Men's Hospital (and they are all Men's Hospitals) conduct studies on Women?

    October 17, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ansible

      I was surprised too that researchers are still doing "men only" studies. What is the point of studying less than half the population?

      October 17, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
    • ColoradoDad

      REALLY? Did you really just go there?

      October 17, 2012 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      "I was surprised too that researchers are still doing "men only" studies. What is the point of studying less than half the population?"

      Men and women are different – they get different types of cancer, and suffer from different rates of cancer. The point is to control the number of variables being examined so the study stands a chance of examining actual data and not just noise.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
  18. wondering

    ColdWarVet...have you ever seen the way they run the tests. They would give a guy 100,000 times what the normal dose is and then they would get Prostate Cancer and say Vitamin E causes cancer.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • glj

      Yeah, I still remember the artifical sweetener study - give the lab rat the equiviliant of 1 case of a diet drink a day for a year then conclude that artifical sweetener causes cancer

      October 17, 2012 at 14:26 | Report abuse |
  19. wondering

    Feminist, would you believe something a man does even if they did the tests?

    October 17, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. DandyStryker

    From the article: "Men in the vitamin group had a modest 8% reduction."

    That conclusion does NOT support the headline that "Multivitamins may PREVENT cancer in men" [emphasis added]

    Is it too much to ask CNN to report the news while demonstrating a basic understanding of uncertainty and statistics?

    October 17, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      A decrease in the incidence rate of cancer certainly suggests that...there aren't as many cases occurring. Sounds like prevention to me.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
  21. David Carmel

    Centrum Silver!!! Your kidding. That vitamin is nothing but a bunch of chemicals masked as vitamins. You need to take a natural vitamin made from real fruits and vegetables. Check out Nutrilite Multi distributed by Amway.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Robert

    I'll still keep eating my greasy cheeseburgers. I'd rather live a fulfilling 50 years of happiness and joy, rather than 90 years eating twigs and popping pills. BLECH!

    October 17, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wilma fingerdo

      you say that until you hit 50, like me....then you'll be wishing you took it a little easy on bad stuff

      October 17, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • irunner

      When I was in my 20's, I never thought I'd see 40, so alcohol, tobacco and bad diet were fine by me. Now I'm 53 and really starting to pay attention to stuff like this. You'll change your tune eventually!

      October 17, 2012 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
  23. Michael Addition

    Most Americans eat a calorie dense/nutrient low diet. Many are obese, but are in some ways malnourished because seldom does a whole fruit, vegetable, seed, or raw nut pass their lips. I believe that taking a multi-vitamin will not off-set this lifestyle because I don't believe that nutrients isolated or synthesized and pressed into pills are absorbed and benefit the body in the way nutrients delivered in whole foods do.

    I don't take a multivitamin, but I concsiously eat large amounts nutrient dense foods. Until I read definitely, I am unconvinced that they will do anything for me except give me vitamin-flavored urine.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. patriotmama1776

    The article itself and most of the comments are missing the truth of the findings: Multivitamins do NOT "block" cancer!!! It is FAR more complex than that, and the writer of the article is incredibly ignorant or misinformed to even suggest it.

    What prevents cancerous cells from growing uninhibited is the BODY'S IMMUNE SYSTEM, which communicates with glycoproteins (look it up, ask a biologist). When it is functioning properly, macrophages, NK killer cells, T cells and many other factors are working together, recognizing the cancerous cells and destroying them BECAUSE they RECOGNIZE the cancerous cells as wrong. They do this Cell to Cell communication via glycoproteins, which are supposed to coat the surface of all cells in the body.

    Acta Anatomica (high level journal of embryology) said a few years back "Whenever 2 or more cells interact in a specific way, cell surface sugars are involved. Glycoproteins are the sweet language of life."

    Vitamins & minerals and trace minerals, along with myriad other good chemicals found in plants (phytochemicals) all work TOGETHER, they are even co-factors of one another, and cannot work correctly independently of one another, which is why most studies involving vitamins "don't work" – no vitamin is found in nature that is isolated and jacked up to ridiculous heights.

    STRUCTURE/FUNCTION – if the cells are healthy, they will perform properly. Cells make up everything – tissue, muscle, organs, bones, fluids, systems. If you put nutrients in your body that support the proper STRUCTURE of those cells, then they will PERFORM as designed to.....which means that if you are eating food that is nutrient-dense, and supplement with WHOLE-FOOD, STANDARDIZED vitamins/minerals/phytonutrients/glyconutrients, then you are giving your body what it requires to make healthy cells.

    So taking Centrum Silver (which is not even very good, according to Proevity), obviously gave barely enough benefit to modestly help the structures, so they function better....the very best supplement on the market today has 100% vitamins from food, 100% minerals from plants, contains the phytonutrient co-factors found in FOOD, and is standardized. It's called Nutriverus. visit http://www.navig8.me/818862 for more info.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. kurgen99

    I do take vitamins, but I wish "they" would make up their minds as to whether they are beneficial or not. I know that some make a huge difference with joint pain.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. lobo joe

    Did the study take into account the lifestyle of those who took multivitamins? I would suspect that those taking the multivitamins had a lower smoking rate, exercised more often and more nutritionally knowledgeable than the placebo group.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • glj

      Could it be that it was in the genes?

      October 17, 2012 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
  27. lol

    "Men in the vitamin group had a modest 8% reduction in cancer cases compared to the others."

    So how is prevention the same as reduction, Leslie? I looked it up in the dictionary and nope...not the same...not even close. Hmmm, I can see how you would have taken the CNN Medical Producer job over flipping burgers though...Much less scrutiny and even less expectations in doing a good job at the CNN gig. Fantastic sensationalism on your part. Clemson must be proud.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. joohyungil

    Have they thought of the fact that people who take vitamins are usually more concerned about their health and are thus more likely to exercise regularly and eat healthier?

    I am a vitamin junkie myself and concerned of my body and health. But they need to be a little more detailed with the experiment.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • matthias9119

      "Have they thought of the fact that people who take vitamins are usually more concerned about their health and are thus more likely to exercise regularly and eat healthier?"

      While I haven't actually read the study - yes, unless the people doing it are completely brain-dead, they will think of things like this.

      Even from the summary here it's clear that they took a population of ~15,000 people and randomly had half of them take vitamins and half of them take a placebo. So things like whether someone chose to exercise regularly should be independent of whether they were in the control or experimental group.

      October 17, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
  29. Wes

    I'm a little perturbed after reading about the "multivitamin beliefs" of some people on this board. For those people saying that multivitamins don't deliver the goods, and that "real food" does, can you explain why this is? Or is it just a gut feeling you have? Similar question to those who "support" multivitamins.

    Don't get me wrong, gut feelings are better than nothing, but when there is a great body of research on a topic, it seems silly to use your gut to choose beliefs or make decisions. Especially considering it would be very easy to instead use the minute or two you spend commenting on here on google scholar finding abstracts on relevant research.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Wes

    Also, seems as if there are several comments critiquing experimental design of this study. Have you read the study, or only CNN's watered down version? CNN does a great service summarizing studies like this every so often, as it makes them more accessible, and more visible. But when you are going to criticize a study like this, it only seems fair to give the experimenters their fair due, and read the actual study.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • glj

      @Wes there was atime I would have agreed with you on CNN. Now days, CNN is a waste of news site. Trying to break myself from it as I do not trust it as a news source. I trust the BBC much more than I trust CNN.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
  31. a slozomby

    eating right and exercise improve your health.... whodathunkit.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • zandhcats

      Absolutely right!!

      October 17, 2012 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
  32. mkar

    Scientists are biased. If this study was about any traditional medicine, the result of this experiment could have been described like:
    "No significant benefits are observed. Mere 8% difference could be attributed to sampling error etc."

    October 17, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wilma fingerdo

      Actually, given the size of the study (15,000 participants) the 8% is statistically significant. Also, the fact that the participants were mostly non-smokers, mostly non-obese, you eliminate some variables that decrease the uncertainty that would be applicable to the general population.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
  33. Julieann

    You're on your own, people. Never a clear answer from the "authorities." Think for yourself. Vitamins are nutrients....as in, your body needs them to function properly. It's not rocket science. If your diet is inadequate (and most are), you need to supplement it. Have you ever observed the diet of a racehorse? Absolutely no junk and every nutrient they could possibly need. That's because we cherish racehorses.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Brian

    I get my vitamins from Cap'n Crunch with crunch berries.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeaux Bleaus

      I guess that accounts for your foolish utterances.

      October 17, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
  35. calvin

    Centrum must have paid BIG money for this study, which actually says NOTHING. An 8% reduction is a worthless result, most likely just coincidence. If they tell me 50-60% reduction, THEN maybe we have something. Most docs that are interviewed by legitimate news segments have said supplements are a waste of money, you get your vitamins through a balanced diet.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeaux Bleaus

      Uh huh, while neither 99% of docs nor anyone else eats a "balanced diet".

      October 17, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
  36. karek40

    I have a problem with the authors assertion "Overall the study provides the first very nice piece of evidence that well-balanced – not overdose, not mega dose – combination of vitamins and minerals seems to have an effect at preventing cancer" the study did not overdose or mega dose, therefore you simply cannot draw that conclusion. It might be equally valid to say mega doses would significantly reduce the probability of cancer. In fact is has been said that mega doses of "C" is a cancer fighter. I don't know I just dislike the unfounded statements.

    October 17, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Julieann

      Linus Pauling won a Nobel Prize for his work on vitamin C and cancer prevention. Must have been something in the study.

      October 17, 2012 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
  37. J-Boogie

    Sometimes. I take multivitmanis. Sometimes I eat the food and drink the juice the vitamins are supplementing.

    October 17, 2012 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Portland tony

    The article failed to mention who funded the study. Perhaps Wyeth Consumer Health group which is owned by Pfizer.

    October 17, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Josh

    Did Centrum Silver fund this study?

    October 17, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. J-Boogie

    in other words......>Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don't.<

    October 17, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Sara

    Do yourself a favor if you take a multivitamin; take one that is from whole foods, not synthetic man made ones. It's worth the investment in your health to spend a little more for a far superior multivitamin.

    October 17, 2012 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. 2/8

    There's nothing wrong with fighting the good fight. But studies like these are kind of like putting a band aid on a wound and walking around in the rain. Sure it's going to stick for awhile, but sooner or later it'll come off and another one will be needed.

    October 17, 2012 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. topgod

    the conclusion coming from this study is based on nonscientific association of results. the article is worthless. it's no different than saying short people are less likely to get cancer.

    October 17, 2012 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. bobincal

    Good point Wes.

    “A total of 14 641 male physicians were randomized with a mean (SD) age of 64.3 (9.2) years. All baseline characteristics had comparable distributions between the multivitamin and placebo groups (Table 1). Participants had a mean (SD) body mass index (BMI, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) of 26.0 (3.6), with a large proportion of former smokers (40.0%) and a very low proportion of current smokers (3.6%). Current aspirin use at baseline was high (77.4%) in this population of physicians, in part reflective of their previous participation and results of the PHS I randomized trial testing aspirin and cardiovascular disease.24 There were 1312 men (9.0%) with a baseline history of cancer and 754 men (5.1%) with a baseline history of cardiovascular disease.”
    So, it appears the researchers did try to take lifestyle into account: a fact that CNN might have easily pointed out.

    See the whole study at

    October 17, 2012 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wilma fingerdo

      >>> a fact that CNN might have easily pointed out

      people stop reading when they have to do word problems...

      October 17, 2012 at 14:50 | Report abuse |
  45. Steve

    I dont understand how America got so fat! I look at these people and wonder how you let yourself become this big round blob. Its sickening! Take care of yourself! These people need help or something jeez...

    October 17, 2012 at 15:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. jacko

    .....or you could just eat food that has (gasp) vitamins in it already!

    October 17, 2012 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • EJ

      You should read some of the follow-up comments of my post. Lots of knuckle draggers out there.

      October 18, 2012 at 01:15 | Report abuse |
  47. Paul

    A few years ago the accepted position was that daily multivitamins were a waste of money and provided no benefit. I suspect that the "modest" protection that daily multivitamins may offer will turn out to be a statistical anomaly and further studies will show there to be no effect. In my view, a more sensible approach to staying healthy than taking vitamins is to eat a balanced diet, avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol use and to do regular exercise.

    October 17, 2012 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bobincal

      Is 8% significant? Well if you were one of the 585 men who did not get cancer as a result of doing something as simple as taking a multivitamin, I think you would say yes!
      If your salary went up by 8% would you consider that significant? If you are a senior person already making a high income, 8% would be great. If you are fresh out of college and your first raise was 8%, not so good.
      If you were used to having s*x with your girlfriend 5 days a week and it went down to 4.6 times (the .6 being foreplay) that would be significant.

      October 17, 2012 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
  48. Tom

    Someone got really rich with this "research"! Yay Centrum will sell like never before!...

    October 17, 2012 at 15:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Jeff Guy

    Has any one thought that what ever they gave as a placebo may have caused the cancer? Just a thought.

    October 17, 2012 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Double A

    Sounds like a sales pitch for Centrum to me. Middle aged people who take multi-vitamin daily are most likely to be more health conscious, eating healthy, and living a healthy life-style than the people who don't take multi- vitamin. Eating and living healthy has been proven to reduce cancer risk anyway.

    October 17, 2012 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sean

      This was a randomized study- a group of people was randomly given either the vitamin or the placebo- so this study unlike other stories picked up by the news should not be subject to that type of bias.

      October 17, 2012 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      There are still potential biases, even in an RCT, and each requires understanding of study design and statistical analysis. You are correct, however, a blinded RCT should not be subject to selection bias.

      October 17, 2012 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
    • bottomfeeder

      I alway got hangnails after a few days of multi vitamins.a defiency in vitamins.when I stopped taking them it went away.

      October 17, 2012 at 17:47 | Report abuse |
    • bwc

      Not all vitamins are a-like. If you know anything about vitamins and nutrition, you will know that Centrium is crap and at the bottom of the totem pole. The high quality ones which are effective are expensive and can be prescribe by license professional only. Also the only thing about eating healthy is eating organic, which is also expensive. With all the pesticides and the way they make food (everything comes from corn if you know), there is no eating healthy, unless you are eating organic and taking the utmost vitamins and also exercising. Case close.

      October 17, 2012 at 18:14 | Report abuse |
    • reasonablebe


      October 18, 2012 at 01:46 | Report abuse |
    • joey

      hell yeah...cant imagine who was behind the test curtain..

      October 18, 2012 at 02:13 | Report abuse |
    • entropy

      Just wanted to echo what bwc said. Centrum is really a low quality multivitamin! So this is reassuring for those who have been taking organic, food-derived supplements by Garden of Life (Vitamin Code) or New Chapter Organics, etc. But those of us taking those taking vitamins already know (first hand) what benefits we get from vitamins. I can't believe how much better I handle stress after taking my vitamins and green drinks and plant-based protein shakes. What kills me about articles likes this, are subheaders like "Vitamins: Friend or Foe?" That implies that vitamins *could* be bad for you! Seriously, how irresponsible and so absurd! How about the damage wrought by the pharmaceutical industry? Now THAT is evil.

      October 22, 2012 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
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