800-830-9596 [email protected]

A series by Bradley T. Wajda, D.O.

This is the 2nd installment in the series. We ended part one with a reference the T.H. Chann School of Public Health at Harvard University made about “major flaws” in a study intended to discourage the use of supplements. Let’s start with the report that I believe represents the biggest dissemination of disinformation about supplements in recent history: the December 2013 report by CBS News that “Multivitamin researchers say ‘case is closed’ after studies find no health benefits”.

There were 3 studies in this report. All were misrepresented in similar ways. The primary study was entitled the “Physician’s Health Study” of 6000 male physicians over the age of 65. The subjects were given either a multivitamin or a placebo and the study lasted 12 years. The sleight-of-hand in the study was to break it into 4-year segments in such a way that the results were minimized. Despite this effort, the study still had to admit that the risk of cancer was reduced by 8% and the occurrence of cataracts dropped 9% in the multivitamin group; HOWEVER, looking at the study longitudinally at parameters conveniently ignored in the report found that there was a 40% decrease in the risk of dying from a heart attack over the course of the study if you were taking the multivitamin. There was a 27% decrease in the reoccurrence of cancer in physicians who had previously had cancer- if they were taking the multivitamin.

Impressed? Just wait. The following are summaries of studies that weren’t afforded the traction that CBS was given:

  • A study of almost 8000 women with invasive breast cancer found that those who regularly took a multivitamin had a 30% lower mortality rate than those who did not.
  • A French study of 13,000 adults revealed that men taking multivitamins daily for 7.5 years had a 31% lower cancer rate and a 37% lower overall death rate. Researchers discovered that these benefits were lost after the subjects stopped taking the daily multivitamin.
  • An 11-year study in Heidelberg, Germany looked at 24,000 subjects and found that multivitamin users had a 48% lower cancer risk and a 42% lower risk of dying from any medical cause.
  • A Mayo study of individuals with terminal small cell lung cancer found that those subjects taking supplements lived longer over the course of the study resulting in a 37% reduction in the death rate compared to those who did not.
  • Studies from the Centre for Huma Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University found that 8 weeks of a daily multivitamin improved depression, anxiety, stress, alertness, and daily function.

We could continue the list- but you get the point. Clearly, there are strong indications that there are benefits to taking a multivitamin.

So does it matter where you get your multivitamin? The answer is “more than you know”. We will address this question in part 3.