Popping multi-vitamin pills doesn't seem to confer any real health benefits, according to a new study.
A team led by Nancy University researchers in France tracked 8,112 volunteers who took either a placebo or one containing vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium and zinc, daily for over six years.
The study, one of the most exhaustive to date, suggests that millions may be throwing their money away without deriving any real benefits. They were just as likely to develop cancer or heart disease as those who took an identical-looking dummy pill.
It found that pills containing vitamin E, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, selenium and zinc increased the risk of malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, four-fold, the Daily Mail reports.
Many users fall into the category of healthy adults who believe the pills will act to insure them against deadly illnesses, said Catherine Collins, chief dietician at St George's Hospital in London.
"But they are wasting their money. This was a large study following people up for a long period of time assessing everything from their mobility and blood pressure to whether they were happy or felt pain," she added.
It also discovered that women on a daily multi-vitamin pill increased their risk of breast cancer by up to 20 percent.
While the evidence that vitamins can do harm is still limited, the latest study seems to confirm that many people are at the very least taking them unnecessarily.