Supplements may raise cancer risk
A new analysis by the University of Colorado Cancer Center of years of research concludes that taking dietary supplements in high amounts may actually increase cancer risk.
Overall, the researchers analyzed 20 years’ worth of studies regarding supplements and found that supplements did not lower a person's risk of developing cancer. "In a nutshell, the answer is no, vitamin pills do not reduce cancer risk," said Dr. Tim Byers, the author of the analysis.
One study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006 showed women who consumed a high amount of folic acid supplements increased their risk of breast cancer by 19 percent compared to women who did not take folic acid supplements. Women with the highest levels of folate had a 32 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to women with the lowest levels.
It was also noted that people taking supplements for vitamin E, folic acid and beta carotene showed increased cancer risk in several trials. A JAMA 2011 study found men taking vitamin E supplements increased their cancer risk by 17 percent from a seven- to 12-year period.
A New England Journal of Medicine study from 1994 found male smokers taking beta carotene supplements increased their risk of lung cancer by 18 percent compared to male smokers who did not take the supplements.
Byers went so far as to suggest that the overuse of of supplements should be considered a clinical and public health safety issue. The results from the analysis were presented yesterday at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting.