Men taking multivitamins may be reducing risk of heart disease, cancer

As skepticism grows regarding the safety and validity of the entire dietary supplement market, a new study published recently in a leading medical journal shows that men who opt for one particular supplement, and the most popular, may actually stand to gain from it.

Multivitamins are sold in the billions every year and millions of adult men take a multivitamin as part of their regular diet every day. These multivitamins are available in myriad forms and are sold over-the-counter wherever other OTC drugs are sold, like in retail pharmacies and grocery stores. They’re heavily marketed and tout numerous health benefits to the people who take them.

And according to the results of a new study from researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, men over the age of 50 who consume daily multivitamin may be reducing their overall risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other cardiac events in the future. Overall, the risk reduction is considered “modest” and a report on the study from WSYR-TV does not provide specific details of the results. 

The study was published recently in a themed edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

These vitamin products are considered dietary supplements and as such, are not subject to the same regulations that govern the manufacture and marketing of other pharmaceutical products. The classification as a dietary supplement puts multivitamins in a dubious group of products that purport to have medicinal qualities or can affect positive health results.

There is little, if any, clinical data required of a manufacturer of any dietary supplement so their safety can only be determined by the rate of adverse events suffered by people taking them.

In the last few years, the Food and Drug Administration alongside other federal authorities have been working to rid the market of dangerous dietary supplements, often times because they contain hidden pharmaceuticals not included on their safety labels that could lead to dangerous drug interactions. Federal marshals have raided labs where these supplements are manufactured and seized billions of dollars in potentially dangerous products. Still, the market is flooded with new products marketed to improving disease immunity, sexual health, and causing weight loss, among others.

Those same concerns over safety often do not include any multivitamins, though some research suggests the health benefits anyone can gain from taking them on a daily basis are marginal, at best. The study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital included more than 14,000 male physicians, some of whom took a daily multivitamin over a 14-year period and others who took a placebo.

Over the course of the study, the men who took a multivitamin were less likely to suffer a cardiac event or stroke, or be diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease. There was even a slight reduction in the risk of cancer.

The study does not appear to account for other factors that may have led to this apparent reduction in risk, just drawing an association between the men who took multivitamins and the slightly reduced risk of developing these life-threatening conditions.

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