Fifty-two year old Mark Martiak takes a multivitamin every day. "I always thought if I could help myself, why not give myself an advantage," he said.
A new large, long term study of middle-aged and older men finds taking a multivitamin daily reduces the overall risk of cancer 8 percent. Researchers say the reduction may sound small, but it's significant.
"Even an 8 percent reduction in something as common as cancer can still have a profound impact in terms of our long term health and our longevity," said Dr. Howard Sesso a researcher with Brigham & Women's Hospital.
Many studies of individual vitamins have found they don't improve health and in some cases even cause harm. Researchers believe multivitamins may help because they contain a combination of vitamins and minerals similar to what you'd find eating the right amount of fruits and vegetables.
"You're really looking to supplement things they may not get in their diet -- things like vitamin C & E and A," said Dr. Louis J. Moreledge, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital.
At least one third of U.S. adults take a multivitamin regularly. Most users are over 50. The only cancer multivitamins did not have an effect on was prostate cancer.
Martiak hopes the study encourages others to take supplements. "Every man should have the understanding that multivitamins can help," he said.
Researchers say whether the results extend to women and younger adults remain
to be seen.
Edward Lawrence - CBS News
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