A new study claims that daily multivitamin usage reduces the risk of cancer in men. Let’s have a look at what’s up with it.
Tough Times In The Vitamin Business
Already months ago I summarized in an article that the usage of multivitamins could at best be doing nothing for and at worst potentially harm you. The scientific evidence is so solid, that even the usually rather business-friendly Forbes magazine felt compelled to run an article titled “A bad week for nutritional supplement industry”. Other publications followed suit.
That certainly isn’t good for any company selling vitamin supplements and it quite looked like they needed a counterpoint. It came, in the form of a study now published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that found that usage of multivitamins “modestly but significantly reduced the risk of total cancer.”
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I won’t bore you with my numbing analysis of the statistical methods used, but that careful wording above does stand out. When you then go through the study’s details, you’ll discover that there was no significant effect of a daily multivitamin on prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, other site-specific cancers and the risk of cancer mortality. Yet prostate and colorectal cancer are the most common types of cancer found in men – if the multivitamins had no effect on these, on what exactly did they have an effect on?
What really got me to wonder was a look at the financial disclosures that have to be stated at the end of any study. This one is quite a long read: The study and its authors were supported by the BASF Corporation, Pfizer Inc., DSM Nutritional Products Inc, the Tomato Products Wellness Council, Cambridge Theranostics Ltd, Cognis Corporation, Pronova BioPharma, Pharmavit, the Aurora Foundation, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, AstraZeneca, Novartis, the Natural Source Vitamin E Association and Bayer Healthcare. One author also has a consulting agreement with Merck, Inc.
All this might be entirely innocent, but it does stand out that half of the who is who in the manufacturing of vitamin supplements supported the study.
Picture courtesy of Erich Ferdinand.