In the study of more than 180,000 people, researchers saw the same number of deaths from cancer and heart disease among multivitamin-takers and those who did not take the supplements.
To investigate, researchers looked at the vitamin habits of more than 82,000 men and nearly 100,000 women, who were an average of 60 years old. Then they tracked how many died, and the causes, over the next 11 years.
Overall, about six in 100 multivitamin users and non-users died from heart disease. Cancer claimed about five in 100 from both groups, and four in 100 died from other causes. In total, almost 29,000 people died in the 11 years of follow-up.
The multivitamins didn't seem to protect users from cancer in general, or from cancers of the lung, colon, rectum, prostate, or breast.
While any protective effect from daily multivitamins remains to be seen researchers note that they did not find taking multivitamins hurt anyone in the study. Some small studies in the past have shown that specific vitamins, not multivitamins, may be protective against heart disease or cancer later in life.
Based on these findings, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers say the best way to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease is through exercise and an overall healthy diet.
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