Q.: My cousin and I are trying to persuade my uncle to keep taking his multivitamins, but he is resisting: "At 82, these things won't help me much," he insists. But my cousin and I believe the multivitamins are beneficial because he hasn't always eaten the right things since my aunt died two years ago. Since our ultimate goal is to see him stay in his home as long as possible, what more could we tell him?
A.: Uncle Dan should know that multivitamins will help him with more than just nutrition, according to a recent study.
In a trial that included nearly 15,000 male physicians who were 50 and older, long-term daily multivitamin use resulted in a modest but statistically significant reduction in cancer after more than a decade of treatment and follow-up, according to a study appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Analysis of the data indicated that men taking a multivitamin had an 8 percent reduction in total cancer incidence.
"Although the main reason to take multivitamins is to prevent nutritional deficiency, these data provide support for the potential use of multivitamin supplements in the prevention of cancer in middle-aged and older men," researchers said.
About half of all incident cancers were prostate cancer, many of which were early stage, and the researchers found no effect of a multivitamin on prostate cancer.
There were no statistically significant reductions in individual site-specific cancers, including colorectal, lung and bladder cancer, or in cancer mortality.
"This is indeed a landmark study," said Dr. Cory Abate-Shen, a professor of urological oncology at Columbia University Medical Center who was not involved in the trial. "It suggests that a balanced multivitamin approach is probably more beneficial than increasing to high levels any one vitamin."
You and your cousin might consider another strategy that could help Uncle Dan while he strives to remain in his home.
A Home Instead CAREGiver would help him with medication reminders, including a vitamin regimen, as well as meal preparation. A CAREGiver can assist in other ways, including light housekeeping, companionship and transportation.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact Joe DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or go to www.homeinstead.com.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.