by Ronald Hoffman, M.D.
Doesn't it seem to you--when it comes to the mainstream media lately--to paraphrase the inimitable Rodney Dangerfield: Vitamins and supplements "just don't get no respect"?
All that changed this month when America's leading medical journal, Journal of the American Medical Association, published a study showing that multivitamins reduced cancer by eight per cent.
The research was part of the Physician's Health Study, involving over 15,000 men over the age of 50, half of whom took a standard multivitamin over a period of 11 years.
Let's break it down: There was no impact on the likelihood of prostate cancer, but that's good news because a previous, smaller study had suggested that vitamins actually slightly increased the risk of this common cancer in men.
But when it came to all other cancers-like colon, lung, stomach, leukemias and lymphomas-there was a whopping 12% reduction in cancer risk.
That may not seem like much, but with hundreds of thousands succumbing to these cancers each year, that translates to thousands of lives saved.
One physician who was part of the study said he was skeptical of vitamins at first, but after seeing the results, he was going to start taking a multi.
Believe me, if Big Pharma had come up with a drug that so significantly reduced cancer, they would rush it into production and it would be popularized like statins have been to prevent heart disease.
Think of it this way: Aside from stopping smoking and losing weight, nothing can even touch vitamin supplementation as a cancer preventive.
Why haven't previous studies verified this? Well, in fact, many studies have shown that individual vitamins like selenium and vitamin D have strong anti-cancer activity. Other studies have failed to show benefits, but the fault might lie with the quality of the nutrients used: synthetic beta carotene and alpha tocopherol vitamin E which are not full-spectrum nutrients as are found in nature.
Moreover, some of the previous studies rely on the participant's recall ("Did you take vitamins in the past?") which is notoriously unreliable. Additionally, it may be that sicker people turn to vitamins for help, biasing the outcomes.
This new study was a double-blind placebo controlled study-the "Gold Standard" of scientific investigation-the largest of its kind to date.
What's remarkable to me is that even with the cheap, generic, low-potency multi they used-Centrum-they achieved measurable reduction of cancer risk. Imagine if the study had used a high-potency, quality multivitamin made with ingredients like mixed carotenoids, chelated minerals, and mixed tocopherolsıthe results might have been even more spectacular!
Or what if they had added fish oil, meaningful amounts of vitamin D3, and known cancer fighters like pomegranate extract, EGCG from green tea, curcumin from turmeric, or sulfurophane glucosinolate from broccoli sprouts?
Anyway, it's encouraging that a major study has dispelled the myth that vitamins "just make expensive urine" or worse yet, are downright harmful. So how long will it take the medical establishment to embrace these findings?