Daily multivitamin use does not lower the chance of developing cardiovascular disease in men, according to a new study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

A similar report from the same researchers announced in October that taking a multivitamin each day lowers a male’s risk of cancer by 8%.

One-third of the people in the United States take a daily multivitamin despite the fact that there is little, and even some negative, information about its impact on chronic disease in the long-term.

One report from 2007 indicated that men using multivitamins have an increased risk of prostate cancer, which conflicts with BWH’s results from their previous study. A different trial from 2010 revealed that colon cancer patients who took multivitamins during and after their treatment did not lower the chance of the cancer returning or their dying from it.

The new finding will be presented today at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012 and will also be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA).

Howard D. Sesso, ScD, lead author and an associate epidemiologist in the Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH, explained:

“The findings from our large clinical trial do not support the use of a common daily multivitamin supplement for the sole purpose of preventing cardiovascular disease in men. The decision to take a daily multivitamin should be made in consultation with one’s doctor and consideration given to an individual’s nutritional status and other potential effects of multivitamins, including the previously reported modest reduction in cancer risk.”

For the purpose of the study, the experts observed almost 15,000 males ages 50 and older for over 10 years. The men were randomly split into two groups – one which took a multivitamin each day and one which took a placebo daily. Both groups were considered the same in regards to risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The subjects provided details on their history of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease. A group of doctors evaluated and confirmed their self-reports with medical records.

After comparing the multivitamin group with the placebo group, the experts found no significant effect on risk of:

  • stroke
  • cardiovascular mortality
  • heart attack

Results also showed that the impact of these multivitamins remained the same for subjects with a baseline history of cardiovascular disease and those without.

J. Michael Gaziano, MD, chief of the Division of Aging at BWH, investigator at VA Boston and senior author of the study, conlcuded:

“Since so many Americans take daily multivitamins, studies like this are key to providing us with valuable information about what specific benefits multivitamins do or do not provide in terms of their long-term impact on chronic diseases. For cardiovascular disease, we must continue to emphasize a heart-healthy diet, physical activity, smoking cessation and regular screening for cardiovascular risk factors.”

Written by Sarah Glynn