Multivitamins raise prostate cancer risk

Regular multivitamin use doubles a man’s risk of developing fatal prostate cancer, US research suggests.

The findings come from a prospective study of 295,344 men who were free of cancer at baseline.

Over five years of follow-up, 10,241 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Of these, 1,476 had advanced tumours.

Men who took multivitamins more than seven times a week had a 98 per cent higher risk of developing fatal prostate cancer than those who never used the supplements. Excessive use of multivitamins was also associated with a 32 per cent increased risk of advanced prostate cancer.

These positive associations were strongest in men with a family history of prostate cancer and those who took micronutrient supplements, including beta-carotene, selenium and zinc.

But daily use of the supplements was not linked to early or localised prostate cancer.

Further research is needed to determine which components of multivitamins are responsible for the increased link.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2007; 99: 754-64

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