January 02, 2009
Vitamins C, E, Beta Carotene Fail To Cut Cancer Risk

Simple antioxidant pills for cancer risk reduction aren't looking like a good bet.

Women who took beta carotene or vitamin C or E or a combination of the supplements had a similar risk of cancer as women who did not take the supplements, according to data from a randomized controlled trial in the December 30 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

People who eat lots of fruits and vegetables get less cancer. But other people do not like to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. They'd rather chow down on a Big Mac, a Whopper, or maybe some Twinkies with a chocolate milk shake. Still, veggies and fruits really are the ticket.

Epidemiological studies have suggested that people whose diets are high in fruits and vegetables, and thus antioxidants, may have a lower risk of cancer. Results from randomized trials that address the issue, however, have been inconsistent and have rarely supported that observation.

The problem is knowing what in the foods cut cancer risks. Could be fiber. Could be non-vitamin antioxidants such as polyphenols. Could be minerals like magnesium. Or maybe the veggies with lower glycemic index just reduce the sugar surge after meals and therefore reduce the surge in insulin and other hormones that can stimulate cells to become cancerous. Probably the answer is multiple factors in fruits and vegetables mean it is hard to find a shortcut.

In the current study, Jennifer Lin, Ph.D., of the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues tested the impact of antioxidant supplements on cancer incidence in a randomized controlled trial. A total of 7,627 women who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease were randomly assigned to take vitamin C, vitamin E, or beta-carotene.

With an average of 9.4 years of follow-up time, there was no statistically significant benefit from antioxidant use compared with placebo in terms of disease risk or mortality due to cancer. Overall, 624 women developed cancer and 176 died from cancer during the follow-up time. Compared with placebo, the relative risk of a new cancer diagnosis was 1.11 for women who took vitamin C, 0.93 for women who took vitamin E, and 1.00 for women who took beta carotene. None of these relative risks was statistically significantly different from 1.

Eat good food. Some day scientists will come up with a way to make The Six Dollar Burger and hot dogs as beneficial as cabbage, eggplant, and arugula. But that day hasn't come yet.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 January 02 11:20 PM  Aging Diet Cancer Studies

morpheus said at January 3, 2009 9:47 AM:

and vitamin d alone

cuts all cancer risks by up to 50 procent in 2000 iu range intake daily

what is this gay big pharma sponspred news here again?

gessh people never learn

Bob Badour said at January 3, 2009 12:00 PM:

morpheus, your conspiracy theory would have more substance if Randall did not post so often on the benefits of vitamin D.

I wouldn't take C+E+A (beta carotene=A) to cut cancer risk, I would throw some selenium and some tocotrienols in with them to improve vascular health and reduce arterial plaques. Preventing atherosclerosis would tend to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer's, Binswanger's and perhaps some other dementia. That these vitamins do not cut cancer risk is non-news and not very important, in my opinion.

At the same time, it is pretty clear Randall has an agenda, and the agenda is to encourage people to eat better diets. I certain have no objection to that goal.

Randall Parker said at January 3, 2009 2:57 PM:


Never got taught when to use carriage return and when to use the period? I see you have mastered the question mark though. Also, the shift key is worth experimenting with.

Gay big pharma sponsored news: Don't ask silly questions. Everyone knows they transfer money into my secret offshore accounts. A post like this is worth a half million to them. I gotta think in terms of another Swiss ski chalet. So I bash on C, E, and beta carotene in order to boost sales of chemotherapy drugs.

Your professionalism makes you stand out though.

Lono said at January 3, 2009 4:43 PM:

Heh Heh Heh - Nice!

Jake said at January 4, 2009 1:27 PM:

This study only shows that the researchers are dumber than a rock. It must of been a NIH study.

They only prescribed 500mg of Vitamin C and 600mg of Vitamin E every other day. Plus they used the wrong form of Vitamin E.

My doctor prescribed as an anti-inflammatory dose 2000 mg of Vitamin C and 800mg of Gamma Vitamin E every day. My CR-P and homostein levels were cut in half.

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