Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do Antioxidants Prevent Cancer?

It's easy to recommend fruits and vegetables as a source of antioxidants. Observational studies have consistently shown an association between diets high in fruits and vegetables and a lower risk of cancer and heart disease. However, I'm often asked about taking antioxidants as supplements. Pills are easier to take in our time-starved society.

Several studies have been done to determine the role of supplements in reducing the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, but the results have been mixed. In a recent paper in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings a systematic review of 12 randomized clinical trials was done to evaluate the effect of antioxidants on cancer incidence and cancer deaths. These trials studied Vitamins C and E, betacarotene, selenium, zinc and lycopene. The majority of the trials included a population of at least 10,000 subjects.

The review concluded that overall there was no reduction in the total number of cancers or in the number of deaths due to cancer. However, in breaking down the data by antioxidants, there were a few antioxidant specific findings. Beta carotene was associated with a slightly higher risk of cancer in smokers. Vitmain E had no effect on cancer incidence or mortality. Selenium was associated with a borderline reduction in cancer incidence and mortality, but this effect was mainly seen in men.

Bottom line is that it may be best to get your antioxidants from food and not from pills.

Photo: courtesy of balanced living.

3 comments:

Hilda said...

I believe we best get our vitamins and minerals also from food, not from pills. I try to always keep a balanced diet, but I also still take supplements, just in case.

Sudipta Das said...

Hello Taraneh
on this issue I am fully agree with you. but If we want to combat against a dreadful disease like cancer we need a comprehensive knowledge of the cancer symptoms that can lead to the infliction of the disease which would help us to nullify

its consequences at the elementary level.

thank you

sudipta das

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