Vitamins to Reduce Risk of Cancer May Backfire


It is now advised by health experts that you are likely wasting away your money if you are using vitamins to reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease. In some instances, the supposed effect of the vitamins may backfire and actually increase your risk of getting cancer.

The conclusion was made Monday by the US Preventive Services Task Force after they reviewed dozens of apparently top-notch research studies and clinical trials. The task force made their recommendation on Monday published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

This is a concern as almost half of adults living in the U.S. are regular users of vitamins or other mineral supplements, this includes 32 percent who take a combination of multiminerals and multivitamins. Many of these vitamins that Americans are using are promoted as beneficial to their health and as protecting them from heart problems or cancer.

Previous studies concluded that one possible cause for cancer and heart disease, both of which are responsible for almost half the number of deaths in America, was oxidative stress. This condition occurs when the body does not have the ability to react to free radicals, oxygen molecules with unpaired electrons capable of having intense, negative reactions to other molecules in the body.

With this finding, Vitamins E, C, and A, along with selenium and beta-carotene, were recommended as medicines that were preventive to the two diseases. However, the task force recently discovered that there was not enough evidence to prove the findings, with vitamin E and beta-carotene completely failing in showing they can reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease. In fact, for beta-carotene, it was found that the vitamin may actually backfire by increasing the risk of lung cancer for those with a high risk already.

Dr. Virginia Moyer, the leader of the task force, notes how aware they are of the impact that cancer and heart disease has on the US, but there is just not enough evidence to back up the findings that the vitamins actually help in reducing the two diseases.

Once known for being very encouraging of Americans to take a daily dose of multivitamins, scientists at Oregon State University have changed their stance, echoing the sentiments of the task force by warning of the true dangers of Vitamin E and beta-carotene, especially for those with high chance of lung cancer. They do not, however, rule out any other benefits that Vitamin E may have.

The co-vice chair of the task force, Dr. Michael LeFevre, emphasizes that the full extent of the harm or benefit of the vitamins is still unknown as the science of it all is not caught up. However, what is known is that the half of all Americans who use vitamins need to be much more aware of what they are taking. The finding that vitamins once thought to reduce the risk of cancer do not actually work and may actually backfire for those at high risk of lung cancer proves the science is still not perfect.

By Kollin Lore


Los Angeles Times


News Medical

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