Multivitamins May Cut Cancer Risk by 8%: JAMA Paper
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed data from nearly 15,000 mean for over a decade. Half the men took a daily multivitamin and half took a placebo for an average period of 11.2 years. The study, entitled “Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men – The Physicians’ Health Study II Randomized Controlled Trial”, is the only the only large-scale, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating the long-term effects of a common multivitamin in the prevention of chronic disease.
How Multivitamins and Omega 3′s Save Lives and Money
“A multivitamin is the cheapest health insurance a person will ever buy,” said Dr Balz Frie, Distinguished Professor of Biophysics at the Linus Pauling Institute. Dr Frie was commenting independently of the study and went on to say that an 8% drop in cancer rates is significant in lives and money that might be saved by daily multivitamin use:
“Given that more than 1.6 million cancer cases are diagnosed each year, this [daily multivitamin use] translates into about 130,000 cancers prevented every year, and with all the health care costs and human suffering,” said Dr Frei.
Overwhelming basic science and experimental data support the use of multivitamins and certain nutritional supplements like Omega 3 fatty acids for the prevention of disease and the support of optimal health. The Lewin Group estimated that $24 billion could be saved over 5 years by giving the elderly some basic nutritional supplements. Other JAMA-published studies and the New England Journal of Medicine also support the view that multivitamins play a key role in disease prevention and optimal health. In addition to multivitamins, The American Heart Association has recommended Omega 3 DHA/EPA (found mainly in high grade fish oil) for heart health. Extensive evidence also supports the use of key nutrients like Vitamin D for boosting our immune systems, obesity, and improving bone health, as well as vitamin B12 for depression and cognitive support.
Multivitamins, Omega 3, and Vitamin D Statistics
- Multivitamins are the most popular nutritional supplement in the USA
- 52% of American adults take multivitamins (42% take them regularly)
- 56% of women and 48% of men take multivitamins in America
- Omega 3 fish oil and Vitamin D are the 2nd and 3rd most popular supplements in the USA
(Source: CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements)
Poor Nutrition in America
Poor nutrition in American is driving an increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, rickets, some cancers, and obesity. According to the CDC, nearly 2/3 of all Americans will soon be clinically obese. Paradoxically, even as America eats more calories, we are getting fewer nutrients due to poor food choices. As a result, many, if not most, obese people are both dangerously overweight and they suffer from malnutrition which is one reason why researchers and doctors are recommending a daily multivitamin for obese people.
Chronic poor nutrition is not limited to the obese in America. According to the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index, as few as 2% of Americans get their daily recommended dose of nutrients from their diet alone. The poor state of nutrition in America is further described by the US government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), as well as studies that show widespread Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and Omega 3 deficiencies. Vitamin D deficiencies have been estimated by Scientific American to be as high as 77% in the US.
Conflicting Studies on Efficacy and Safety of Multivitamins
There have been several studies that dispute the efficacy and safety of multivitamin use, most notably one from the Archives of Internal Medicine that concluded that multivitamin use increased mortality rates. While this study got a lot of attention in the media, there were several problems with this study’s design that led it to be described as “poor science” by leading preventative physicians like Dr Mark Hyman MD, who is the Chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine. Problems with prior multivitamin studies include the following:
- Patient background was ignored: the study did not ask or know if the participants were in good health when they participated in the study.
- The data was self-reported: self-reported data is often not reliable or consistent over time. Additionally, the data was only collected a few times over a 15 year period with inadequate understanding of other factors that would impact usage or patient health (see above point)
- The “multivitamins” used in the study were not standardized: there was no accounting for which products were used, the forms (natural or synthetic) of the vitamins, the quality of the products, or the dosages. It was not an apples:apples comparison.