Study: Multivitamins can help prevent certain cancers in men over 50


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on November 5, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 11:28 AM

AUSTIN -- A decade-long clinical study has revealed a correlation between multivitamins and cancer prevention in men. Boston researchers did the study involving 14,000 men over the age of 50. They found taking a common combination of essential vitamins and minerals every day decreased the incidence of cancer by eight percent compared with a placebo pill.

Radiation oncologist Richard Garza with Urology Austin and prostate cancer patient Ramon Cuevas are both proponents of using multivitamins when it comes to prevention of cancer in men over the age of 50.

"The effect of vitamins has changed my life 100 percent," said Cuevas.

Dr. Garza says the recent Boston clinical trail showing the correlation between multivitamins and cancer prevention is significant, albeit, not earth-shattering news.

"It's nothing new or radical," said Garza. "It's the same thing your mother has always said, 'Exercise, eat a well-balanced meal and take a multivitamin.'  Exercise has always been proven to have a better outcome in patients, and now we have proof that multivitamins can also be beneficial."  

The study found men taking multivitamins every day decreased the incidence of cancer by eight percent. That may seem like modest numbers, but not to Garza.

"In the world of oncology when we look at something with the magnitude of five to eight percent, it's tremendous," said Garza. "When you apply that to the entire population or those at risk for cancer, that's a big risk. We're talking hundreds of thousands of patients."  

Somewhat surprisingly, the study found multivitamin use did not reduce the rate of prostate cancer or colorectal cancer -- two of the more common cancers in men over 50. Still, Garza says the positives of multivitamin use cannot be overlooked.

"If you looked at the total decrease in the number of cancers that was evident in this trial, the biggest difference was in those patients who have had a previous cancer," he said. 

Cuevas is two months into his battle with prostate cancer. Cuevas, who has a Ph. D. in nuclear physics, says he doesn't need an extensive education to realize the benefits multivitamins may afford him in a possible battle with a new cancer down the road.

"Because who wants to have cancer?" he said. "It's so simple."

The new study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Just a year ago, a study in women showed that certain vitamins not only don't help but can increase the rate of death.

Click here for more information on multivitamins and cancer prevention in men.

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