Thursday, May 17, 2007

Link Between Mega Multivitamins And Cancer

Men who take too many multivitamins may be increasing their risk of dying from prostate cancer, according to new research from the National Cancer Institute.

Taking a multivitamin more than seven times a week was associated with a 30 percent increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and a doubling of the risk of death from the disease in the study.

Regular multivitamin use (one to six times a week) did not appear to increase cancer risk, and excessive vitamin use was not associated with an increased risk of early, or localized, prostate cancer.

An analysis of 47 studies assessing antioxidant supplementation, published earlier this year, found a slight increase in deaths among people who took beta-carotene, vitamin E, or vitamin A supplements.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Gluud and colleague Goran Bjelakovic, both of Copenhagen University Hospital, offer an intriguing hypothesis on the role of free radicals and antioxidant supplements in the promotion and prevention of disease.

The thinking has been that antioxidant vitamins protect against diseases like cancer and heart disease by reducing the free radicals that are thought to promote these conditions through oxidative stress.

But Gluud and Bjelakovic suggest that free radicals may do some good by targeting and killing harmful cells, such as those that cause cancers to grow.

As usual, a balanced approach is best.

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