Researchers in the United States have revealed that multivitamin tablets taken by patients of colorectal cancer do not actually cut down the risk of death among those who survived an earlier attack.

The study conducted by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston suggests that between 27 to 77 percent of patients who survived cancer in the United States took multivitamins in the belief that it will help them fight recurrence of the disease. However, this was proved to be misplaced based on an analysis of data.

The study, which appears in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, says that while there was no known downside of taking multivitamin tablets, the sample survey did not indicate any overall survival benefits from taking them.

As part of the research, the team worked with stage-3 colon cancer patients who had developed cancer in the bowel area with some cells having spread to some nearby lymph nodes. The team asked the 1,038 patients to provide answers to a range of questions related to the use of multivitamins during and after chemotherapy.

It was found that more than half of the patients used multivitamins while receiving chemotherapy while more than 50 percent of those who were cancer-free said they took the tablets six months after radiation therapy.

The researchers noted that in either of the two groups, there was no significant difference in the rate of disease-free survival or overall survival between the patients who took multivitamins and those who did not.

They observed a marginal benefit among multivitamin users whereby patients below 60 years and were obese had a small advantage during chemotherapy, says senior author Dr. Charles Fuchs, a director of gastrointestinal oncology at Dana-Farber.

"This study adds to a growing body of research that questions the purported benefit of multivitamin use, and it underscores the need to investigate the use of individual vitamins, such as vitamin D, which may, in fact, provide real benefit," says Fuchs in a press release issued by the institute.