Multivitamin Supplements and Cancer
One of the greatest achievement of marketing over evidence was the staggering rise of vitamin supplements use in the 20th century. The company that produced these supplements successfully created a “health halo” around vitamins, and eventually taking these vitamins became a virtue. The evidence, however, has much more to say.
Lately, it has become clear that there are unintended outcomes of taking vitamin supplements, and truth be told there might be a net negative health effect. This particularly applies to those who are healthy and don’t require vitamins but still keep popping pills, and for those who exceed the prescribed dosage.
A large number of people take vitamin and mineral supplements, because they believe it will compensate for all dietary flaws, and will make them healthier. However, large-scale study that was presented at a forum at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, has revealed, taking too many vitamins increases cancer risk.
The Gap Between Scientific Evidence and Public Perception
Over the last half century the supplement industry has instilled into the minds of the general public that vitamin and mineral supplements are harmless, and the more you take the better it is. Also, that an individual can decide their own supplement needs based on the advertisements and various other online and magazine articles.
But, the truth is none of these assumptions are true. To be precise, there is a risk if vitamins are used excessively. Determining who should take these vitamins, which vitamin is to be taken and the correct dosage is also a bit nuanced and complex, and therefore a little professional guidance is necessary. More rational and evidence-based supplementation is required in order to ensure that it is net health positive.
Is It Safe to Take Vitamins and Supplements?
Experts say there is surely a place for vitamin and mineral supplements in our diets, but only to fill in the small nutrient gaps. They are “supplements” intended to add the missing nutrients to your diet, not to replace a healthy and wholesome meal.
However, some research shows that downing these pills on a regular basis isn’t really making us healthier. Instead taking extra vitamins “does more harm than good” and increases the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Two meta-analysis of studies that collected data on the effects of multivitamin use in more than 400,000 patients, confirmed increased mortality rate among those who consumed supplements regularly.
Another study in 2007 found that women who took multivitamin supplements (vitamin C, E, selenium, beta-carotene, and zinc) increased their risk of developing skin cancer.
While it’s apparent that multivitamin supplements may have alarming effects, the question is, can single vitamin supplements still hold benefits for the body? The obvious answer is, for healthy adults, likely not!
Ensuring Smart and Safe Supplementation
An article published in 2013, in the Annals of Internal Medicine says daily multivitamins don’t prevent death or chronic disease, thus their use can’t be justified, unless a person is below science-based requirement levels.
Health, Diet and Nutrition editor for NBC News, earlier Today’s diet and nutrition editor, Madelyn Fernstrom, professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology and Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine said that, “In a perfect world, we would all eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and we would all exercise regularly, but that’s not reality.” So, supplementation may be necessary depending upon the need and situation.
There are a groups of people who might benefit from supplements because of their distinct nutritional needs:
- Women of childbearing age need extra calcium and iron trough supplements.
- Pregnant or lactating women.
- Growing children and teenagers with irregular eating habits.
- Old age people with deficiencies.
- Vegetarians or vegans, as they may be deficient in key nutrients.
- Dieters or people avoiding certain food groups may need some nutrients in pills form.
- People with medical conditions and eating disorders.
- People who often eat fast and processed food.
Last but not the least, always consult your doctor first. And remember, just because a supplement is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s more beneficial to your body or will show mild to no side effects. Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects over time and their safety is not assured. So, savour the flavour of healthy diet and stay safe life long!