Prevention & Recovery

High doses of vitamins linked to cancer risk

High doses of vitamins linked to cancer risk

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Prevention & Recovery

High doses of vitamins linked to cancer risk

Do vitamins and supplements ward off deadly diseases such as cancer?

A Denver, Colorado, researcher is trying to get the word out that the answer may well be no.

Not only is there little scientific evidence that vitamins will reduce your risk of cancer, high doses of some vitamins actually increase the risk of cancer instead, according to research by cancer researcher Tim Byers, from the University of Colorado.

In a recent presentation at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Byers discussed his 2012 study on the subject and other developments in the field.

Only take recommended doses
In an e-mail interview, Dr. Byers said there’s newer evidence of an increased risk of cancer due to too much folic acid supplementation. He also suggests beta-carotene, vitamin E, and the mineral selenium are bad for us when we take more than twice the recommended daily allowance.

In the case of beta-carotene, taking more than the RDA increased the risk for both lung cancer and heart disease by 20 percent.

And these are just the ones that have been studied in large trails, says Dr. Byers, the associate director for cancer prevention and control at the Colorado University Cancer Center.

"What I worry about more is all the many other supplements that have never been tested, but that are commonly consumed in amounts greatly exceeding what we can get in a healthy diet," he said.

Watch the vitamin drinks, too
Dr. Byers’ message echoes other recent research out of the University of Toronto, which found that people who drink vitamin-enhanced drinks may be getting up to three times the RDA of some vitamins, which can be risky especially in the case of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, which can damage the liver.

So, what to do the next time you’re pondering a pill to pop, or an energy drink to guzzle? Try to get as many nutrients as possible from food instead.

"If you take supplements, stick to those that are at or near the RDA levels," Dr. Byers said, adding that anyone with particular health issues such as pregnancy, digestive problems or immune problems that require nutritional supplementation should follow advice from their doctor.

In this case, it appears you can have too much of a good thing.

Read on for ideas on how to get your vitamins from your diet.


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Prevention & Recovery

High doses of vitamins linked to cancer risk