A recent study published in the online journal of the National Cancer Institute found that using vitamin supplements might have no effect on the development of cancer.
Lead author of the study and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Jennifer Lin said, “Simply taking antioxidant supplements is insufficient to prevent cancer development.” She did state, however, that individuals could still benefit from eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables with high antioxidant properties.
Over the past several years, vitamin supplements have received negative publicity, as studies have not been able to show their benefit in regards to preventing cancer. This has been in direct contradiction to earlier studies which seemed to show antioxidant properties in vitamins reduced cell damage.
The most recent study was conducted on more than 8,000 women over 40 years of age, who had or were at risk for cardiovascular disease. The women were given supplements of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, a combination of the vitamins or a placebo. The end results, after an average of nine years showed no significant evidence that the supplements helped or hurt a woman’s chance of developing cancer.
Dr. Lin explained that although the supplements did not help in this test group, they might help in individuals who are poorly nourished. The participants in the study were all well nourished but individuals lacking in antioxidants may benefit from supplements.
Dr. Lin also stated, “More studies need to be done to see who may benefit from antioxidant supplements. One trial study has suggested that men, compared with women, were more likely to gain benefits from supplementation with antioxidants in reducing cancer risk. However, such findings need verification.”
U.S. National Cancer Institute senior investigator, Dr. Demetrius Albanes, believes this study may provide some clues but not a definitive answer. In his commentary, which accompanied the study, he stated that although supplements didn’t help this group of women they might provide benefits to those individuals who are not at risk for cardiovascular disease.
He touts the importance of a low calorie diet, high in fruit and vegetables and added, “But right now, the issue of vitamin supplementation is still very much up in the air for men and for women.”