Evid Based Med doi:10.1136/eb-2012-101188
  • Prevention
  • Randomised controlled trial

Modest cancer prevention benefit with long-term multivitamin supplementation: Physicians’ Health Study II results warrant cautious interpretation

  1. Wendy Demark-Wahnefried
  1. Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  1. Correspondence to : Wendy Demark-Wahnefried
    Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama, 1675 University Blvd rm. 346, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA; demark{at}

Commentary on


Various vitamins and minerals have been shown to inhibit carcinogenesis or reduce cancer risk in preclinical experiments and observational studies. Such work has given rise to several chemoprevention trials of isolated nutrients, many of which (eg, Alpha-Tocopherol and Beta-Carotene (ATBC) Trial, Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET) and Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT)) have produced disappointing findings.1 Multivitamin supplements, however, may yield greater benefit and less risk, since the nutrient profile more closely approximates a healthy, balanced diet. A randomised controlled trial (RCT) of multivitamin supplements is significant since over one-third of US adults regularly take these preparations.2


Gaziano and colleagues recently reported …

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