Nutritional Supplements Could Cause, not Prevent Cancer
Cancer experts warn consumers about taking nutritional supplements that can cause, rather than prevent cancer. According to experts at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, taking nutritional supplements rather than whole foods could tip the balance in the body and actually cause cancer, shown in some studies.
Sally Scroggs, health education manager at UT MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center explains, “Researchers are still unsure about whether or not minerals, herbs and other plants taken in pill, capsule, tablet or liquid form actually prevent cancer." Studies have shown that vitamin C and E don't prevent cancer. The "Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial" failed to show any benefit for prostate cancer prevention from selenium and vitamin E supplements.
Pills Can't Replace a Healthy Diet for Cancer Prevention
“If you eat lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, you should get the nutrients, including fiber, vitamins and minerals, your body needs to lower your chances of getting diseases like cancer,” Scroggs said. “Taking a pill can’t replace a healthy diet.”
For some men and women with chronic illness or food allergies, taking a supplement might be necessary, but for the majority of consumers, a diet packed with beta-carotene, selenium, lycopene, resveratol and vitamins A, C, and E is recommended to help fight cancer.
For those who might need nutritional supplements, Scroggs recommends an analysis before taking a vitamin, mineral or herb with misleading claims. “Your doctor or dietician can determine which pills you really need and what dose you should take,” Scroggs said. “Keep in mind there’s no vitamin or supplement that’s good for everyone.”
Even if your doctor recommends a supplement, it's still best to focus on foods for fighting cancer and disease prevention. Some examples of situations when taking vitamin supplements is necessary include individuals at risk for osteoporosis, anyone with vitamin B12 deficiency, vegans, pregnant and breast-feeding women, and anyone with a vitamin D deficiency.
Caution is necessary before taking supplements to prevent cancer. Researchers are still uncertain about whether supplements and pills have any benefit for cancer prevention. Some supplements might upset nutritional balance and cause, rather than prevent certain types of cancer, making a focus on nutrition from whole foods important.