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Don't Take Your Vitamins

A study has come out that shows taking multi-vitamins might increase the risk of dying form prostate cancer.

Men taking multi-vitamin supplements often may increase their risk of death from prostate cancer, according to a new study published in the May 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

But experts caution that the study could not establish a causal relation between the risk and use of multivitamins, meaning multivitamin use does not necessarily raise the death risk associated with prostate cancer.

The study, a statistical analysis, but not a trial, found that men who used multi-vitamins more than seven times a week were twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as men who never took vitamins.

Those men were also at an increased risk of developing advanced or fatal prostate cancer, compared with men who never used multivitamins, reported Karla A. Lawson, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues.


But the study also found that those who took selenium, a-carotene, or zinc were among those who faced the highest risk, which is less explainable. "Thus, excessive intake of certain individual micronutrients that are used in combination with multivitamins may be the underlying factor that is related to risk and not the multivitamins themselves," the researchers wrote, cited by Medpage today.

In explaining that use of multivitamins may increase the risk of prostate cancer, Drs. Bjelakovic and Gluud suggested that "antioxidant supplements in pills are synthetic, factory processed, and may not be safe compared with their naturally occurring counterparts."

Another explanation by the editorialists is that "reactive oxygen species in moderate concentrations are essential mediators of reactions by which the body gets rid of unwanted cells. Thus, if administration of antioxidant supplements decreases free radicals, it may interfere with essential defensive mechanisms for ridding the organism of damaged cells, including those that are precancerous and cancerous."

This explanation sounds more plausible, the foodconsumer.org scientist commented. Still, the study per se could not tell the readers that multivitamin use definitely increases risk of fatal and advanced prostate cancer.

I hate it when things that are supposed to be good for us turn out to be bad for us. All those years parents have been feeding their kids Flintstone vitamins to help them grow up stronger and healthier, and all they were doing is giving them prostate cancer. Jerks.

Next they'll discover it increases the chances of ovarian cancer in women.

By min | May 16, 2007, 2:59 PM | Science


But what about scurvy? You don't want to wind up with scurvy on those long sea voyages.

It says correlation does not imply causation!

And these morons took MORE THAN ONE multivitamin a day. It's probably like when all those health buffs took too many B vitamins in the 80s and gave themselves Parkinsons.

I'll wait for real science before I stop taking my vitamin. My prostate feels pretty good so far.

better still would be if it did imply causation as long as they died before they procreated.