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MultiVitamins & Men

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52-year-old Mark Martiak takes a multivitamin every day.

"I always thought if I could help myself why not give myself an advantage."

A new large, long term study of middle aged and older men finds taking a multivitamin daily reduces the overall risk of cancer 8%. Researchers say the reduction may sound small, but it's significant.

"Even an 8% reduction in something as common as cancer can still have a profound impact in terms of our long term health and our longevity," says Dr. Howard Sesso of Brigham & Women's Hospital.

Many studies of individual vitamins have found they don't improve health and in some cases even cause harm. Researchers believe multivitamins may help because they contain a combination of vitamins and minerals similar to what you'd find eating the right amount of fruits and vegetables.@@

"You're really looking to supplement things they may not get in their diet. Things like vitamin C & E and A will be important extra iron will be important," says Dr. Louis J. Moreledge of Lenox Hill Hospital.

At least one third of U.S. adults take a multivitamin regularly. Most users are over 50.@

The only cancer multivitamins did not have an effect on was prostate cancer. Martiak hopes the study encourages others to take supplements.@

"Every man should have the understanding that multivitamins can help."

Researchers say whether the results extend to women and younger adults remain to be seen.

Nearly 15,000 male doctors participated in the study for more than a decade. Some cancer experts point out that most were healthy -- only 4% smoked, for example and that the results may be different in a less healthy population.

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