A new study shows that taking Centrum Silver, a top-selling multivitamin, can reduce men’s risk of getting cancer by 8%. It’s the kind of result that can give anyone who follows medical news whiplash. Just a year ago, a study in women showed that certain vitamins not only don’t help but can increase the rate of death. What gives?
Studies of vitamins over the past decade have been “quite variable,” says Raymond DuBois, a professor of cancer medicine at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and a former president of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR). In context, that 8% decrease in risk over such a long period of time is not that large, though obviously better than nothing. Getting people to exercise regularly, avoid cigarettes, sun exposure, and other known carcinogens would have a much bigger and immediate impact in reducing cancer cases. Half of cancer cases are thought to be preventable by avoiding known risks, he argues.