Some vitamin supplements don't protect against lung cancer

May 21, 2007

A study of more than 75,000 adults found that taking supplemental multivitamins, vitamin C and E and folate do not decrease the risk of lung cancer. The findings are being reported at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International Conference, on Monday, May 21.

The study, which also did not find any increased lung cancer risk from the supplements, is one of the most detailed, prospective observational studies to look at the effect of vitamin supplements instead of vitamins from foods on lung cancer risk.

“People are spending billions of dollars on supplements, and there is a general sense in the population that they prevent cancer,” said researcher Chris Slatore, M.D., of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. “We need to find out if they’re helpful or even harmful.”

The 77,738 men and women in the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) study, ages 50-76, filled out an extensive questionnaire on vitamin intake over the previous 10 years, including how much of each supplement they took. The researchers then checked to see how many of the people in the study had lung cancer, using a government cancer registry. They found 393 cases of lung cancer. Adjusting for such risk factors as smoking, age, sex, cancer history, other lung disease and history of lung cancer, they found no statistically significant relationships between different types of supplements and lung cancer.

In 1996, a large study known as the CARET study which was looking into the effects of the dietary supplements beta-carotene and retinol (vitamin A), was halted after the supplements were found to increase lung cancer risk, particularly among smokers. That study, and others, encouraged researchers to look more deeply into the relationship between supplements and lung cancer, Dr. Slatore said.

The new lung cancer and supplements study is part of a larger study that is looking at supplements and various types of cancer, including prostate cancer and breast cancer, Dr. Slatore said.

Supplements have been getting a lot of attention this year. In February, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an overview of studies that found that supplements of beta-carotene, vitamin E, or vitamin A slightly increases a person's risk of death.

Source: American Thoracic Society

Explore further: The do-nothing dilemma—surveillance vs. surgery for cancer

Related Stories

The do-nothing dilemma—surveillance vs. surgery for cancer

August 2, 2016

Imagine for a moment that you have a tiny but worrisome lung nodule or, say, a growing bulge in a crucial blood vessel. You have no choice but to continue with normal life: going to work, running errands, paying taxes, negotiating ...

Selenium shows no benefit in prevention of lung cancer

June 5, 2010

Selenium, a supplement taken daily by millions in hopes of protection against cancer and a host of other diseases, has proven to be of no benefit in reducing a patient's risk of developing lung cancer - either a recurrence ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Cow embryos reveal new type of chromosome chimera

May 27, 2016

I've often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It's a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.