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'Daily multivitamins cut cancer risk'

18 October 2012

DSM has welcomed the results of a study to show that a daily intake of a combination of vitamins and minerals can help prevent cancer in men, with an eight percent reduction in overall cancer rates.

The research, published this week in the online edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, highlights the importance of vitamins and minerals in supporting health and wellbeing and could impact on healthcare provisions globally.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial involved 14,600 male physicians over a median follow-up period of 11.2 years and is one of the largest and longest studies ever to take place into the links between multivitamin intake and cancer risk.

The trial, carried out by a group of scientists from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that the reduction in risk varied depending on the type of cancer, although the relatively small number of individual cancer types means these results are not statistically significant. When prostate cancer was excluded from the analysis, the overall reduction in all other cancers was 12 percent.

“The links between vitamins and health have long been recognized but this study, for the first time, substantiates that a moderate dose of long-term daily multivitamin supplementation on top of a common diet of American health professionals can significantly reduce the risk of total cancer in men, with the potential to improve millions of lives globally,” comments Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice President Nutrition Science & Advocacy, DSM Nutritional Products.

“It is 100 years since Casimir Funk first coined the term ‘vitamine’ to describe the bioactive substances that are essential to human health and wellbeing, yet micronutrient deficiencies still exist across the world. The recommended intakes of many vitamins and minerals are difficult to achieve through diet alone and a daily multivitamin can help fill nutritional gaps to support a healthy lifestyle.

“Further research is needed into the mechanisms by which vitamins and micronutrients can help prevent cancer, but the study indicates that it is the combined effect of multivitamin - rather than the value of a single vitamin supplement – that is most important.”

A recent analysis by DSM, based on the results of dietary surveys carried out in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and the US, found that more than three-quarters of people do not achieve the recommended intakes of a number of vitamins . Micronutrient deficiency is a major public health concern and it has been calculated that total annual public health cost savings of €187 billion could be achieved in the European Union if vitamin D deficiency alone was eliminated .

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