Â January is turning out to be a bad month for vitamins and their purported anticancer effects.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston add to the negative results.
First, the details.
8171 women in the Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study were randomly assigned to take vitamin C (500 mg of ascorbic acid daily), natural-source vitamin E (600 IU of alpha-tocopherol every other day), and beta carotene (50 mg every other day) alone or in combination vs placebo.
7627 of the women were cancer free before the study.
And, the results.
During the next 9 years, 624 women developed invasive cancer and 176 women died from cancer.
There was no statistically significant effect of any vitamin on total cancer incidence.
Duration and combined use of the 3 antioxidants also had no effect on cancer incidence and cancer death.
There were no differences in side effects among the groups.
The bottom line?
This is the second study this month to conclude that taking vitamin C doesn’t prevent cancer, and the third to conclude vitamin E doesn’t either. Both were summarized here.
Itâ€™s possible that the women who participated were not compliant with treatment. However, based on what we now know, taking vitamin E is not wise. It’s not a cancer preventative and may not be safe.
A review of the literature in 2005 concluded, “High-dosage (greater than 400 IU/day) vitamin E supplements may increase all-cause mortality and should be avoided.”
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.