Objective: Multivitamins contain several nutrients, including folic acid, which are hypothesized to reduce colon cancer risk. Previous epidemiologic studies have suggested that effects of multivitamins containing substantial amounts of folic acid (introduced in 1973) may not be evident until 15 or more years since first use.
Methods: We examined the association between daily multivitamin use and colon cancer mortality among 806,397 US men and women in the Cancer Prevention Study II cohort who completed a questionnaire at enrollment in 1982 and were followed for mortality through 1998.
Results: After multivariate adjustment, multivitamin use at enrollment showed little association with colon cancer mortality. After 15 years since first use of a multivitamin potentially containing folic acid, we observed slightly decreased risk of colon cancer mortality (rate ratio (RR) = 0.89, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.80-0.99). Consistent with previous reports, this association was stronger among participants consuming two or more alcoholic drinks per day (RR = 0.71, 95% CI 0.56-0.91).
Conclusion: Our results are consistent with a modest reduction in colon cancer mortality associated with use of folic acid-containing multivitamins among moderate to heavy alcohol users.