Supplementary vitamins may increase risk of cancer, researchers find

Scientists found that individuals who took more than the recommended daily allowance actually increased the risk of developing cancer

Rose Troup Buchanan
Tuesday 21 April 2015 16:59 BST
Could taking too many vitamins increase your risk of cancer?
Could taking too many vitamins increase your risk of cancer?

Supplementary vitamins may increase the risk of cancer, new research has claimed.

Scientists at the University of Colorado studied several trials, involving thousands of patients, over the past decade and found that those imbibing over-the-counter vitamins were more – not less – likely to have health problems.

The findings, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) over the weekend, were surprising admitted the centre’s associate director.

“We found that the supplements were actually not beneficial for their health. In fact, some people actually got more cancer while on the vitamins,” Tim Byers, associate director for cancer prevention and control at the CU Cancer Center, said.

Researchers found that individuals who took more than the recommended amount of beta carotene – a vitamin that boosts the immune system – increased the risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease by 20 per cent.

The UK’s vitamin industry is worth an estimated £400 million, according to 2012 research.

Interest in the supplements started roughly twenty years ago, when scientists noticed a correlation between those who at more fruit and vegetable and those who had less cancer.

The present research hoped to establish if vitamins could have a similar effect.

Although initial tests on animals were promising, Mr Byers said that when the trials examine human participants the results were very different.

“We are not sure why this is happening at the molecular level but evidence shows that people who take more dietary supplements than needed tend to have a higher risk of developing cancer,” he said.

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