A new study published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that taking a daily multivitamin appears to reduce a man's cancer risk. The research focused on the impact that taking a multivitamin had on men age 50 and older, and followed 14,641 men for a period of approximately 14 years.
Researchers were trying to determine if taking a comprehensive multivitamin, rather than supplementing a specific vitamin or mineral, has a measurable impact on either site-specific cancer or the frequency with which men develop cancer in general. Previous studies on specific supplements has been largely inconclusive, with some studies showing that high doses of particular vitamins or minerals may actually prove detrimental to one's health and raise the risk of developing certain cancers, according to reports by the Associated Press and other media outlets.
Here is some of the key information to emerge from the study into the correlation between multivitamins and men's cancer risk.
* According to the study, researchers noted some 2,669 cases of cancer among the men that participated. That total included a high number of site-specific cancers, including prostate and colorectal.
* Researchers found that there was little statistical difference in the occurrence of site-specific cancers between the men who took a daily multivitamin and those who were given the placebo.
* However, there was a "modestly but significantly reduced" occurrence of total cancer among the men who took the multivitamin, as cited in the study's conclusions.
* As reported by the Washington Post and other media outlets, the men were each studied for an average of 11 of the 14 years that the research was conducted. The study itself was part of the Physician's Health Study II, which was itself a long-term study that was conducted through a partnership between the National Cancer Institute and Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.
* The study was conducted from 1997 to 2011.
* The Washington Post reported that the reduced risk of cancer observed in the group of men who took the daily multivitamin held for both those who had never had cancer before and for those men among the group who had battled cancer at least once before the study began.
* CNN pointed out that the researchers are not sure that the results would be the same for women or for people with pre-existing conditions or who smoke. The study looked only at healthy male physicians, all of whom maintained a healthy weight, and most of whom did not smoke.
* Dr. Ernest Hawk, who did not participate in the study, told CNN on Wednesday that "it will be difficult to make generalizations to the broad public from this one study," but that he was "impressed" with its results.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.