Archive for March 3rd, 2008

Can Multivitamins Prevent Cancer?

March 3, 2008

Do you take multivitamins daily?  Why? Out of habit? or because you believe they can prevent illneses especially cancer?

Well a new study refutes the claims that multivitamins can prevent cancer.  Recently published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggest that in fact the contrary maybe true and that is… it can be harmful!!!!__________________________________________________________

Rationale: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. Although supplements are used by half the population, limited information is available about their specific effect on lung cancer risk.

Objectives: To explore the association of supplemental multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate with incident lung cancer.

Methods: Prospective cohort of 77,721 men and women aged 50–76 years from Washington State in the VITAL (VITamins And Lifestyle) study. Cases were identified through the Seattle–Puget Sound SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) cancer registry.

Measurements and Main Results:

  • Supplemental vitamin E was associated with a small increased risk of lung cancer (HR, 1.05 for every 100-mg/d increase in dose).
  • This risk of supplemental vitamin E was largely confined to current smokers (HR, 1.11 for every 100-mg/d increase) and was greatest for non–small cell lung cancer (HR, 1.07 for every 100-mg/d increase).

Conclusions: Supplemental multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate were not associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer. Supplemental vitamin E was associated with a small increased risk.

Patients should be counseled against using these supplements to prevent lung cancer.


We have been disappointed with studies looking at whether multivitamins are beneficial or not.  Almost always they turn out to be negative and sometimes even do harm.  And yet we continue to take MVI as supplements to our diet for hope that they may replenish what have been lacking in our diets.  I even have patients who continue to show me their MVI preparations bought by their loved ones in the US whether they can take them or not.

What we know is that foods rich in vitmains have been proven to reduce the risk of cancer…BUT once these vitamins are packaged as pills…then the benefit is nowhere to be found!  And what is worst…in the above published study…Vitamin E was noted to increase the risk of lung Cancer especially among smokers!

The best option for us is not to rely on shortcuts to health packaged as pills…its in our lifestyle..the food we eat , the physical activities we do and the way we live our lives that matter most!

Health Shortcuts Packaged As Pills Are Of No Benefit!