Thursday, March 26, 2009

Can vitamin supplements fight cancer?

Contrary to popular belief, vitamin supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and selenium cannot fight cancer or disease. Recent studies have repudiated the long-held belief that such supplements could fight heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other illnesses, by showing that they have had no effect on preventing ailments, and in some cases they can be harmful. In December of last year, long-term trials involving 50,000 participants irrefutably proved that vitamin supplements have no effect on reducing the risk of lung, colorectal, bladder, prostate, or pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, more recent studies have shown that over-the-counter minerals and vitamins also cannot help fight strokes, cardiovascular disease, and other cancers. Instead, physicians recommend getting a healthy daily diet of fruits and vegetables, instead of relying on “wonder pill” that can even be harmful to one’s health. However, scientists still remain puzzled at how essential vitamins for the human body, such as selenium and Vitamin E, are not effective as supplements in randomized controlled trials.

Unfamiliar terms:
Selenium: is a trace mineral that is essential to good health but required only in small amounts .Selenium is incorporated into proteins to make selenoproteins, which are important antioxidant enzymes. The antioxidant properties of selenoproteins help prevent cellular damage from free radicals

I thought this article was helpful in correcting the mistaken belief that vitamin pills can make up for eating fruits and vegetables, and if there was a pill for every vitamin or mineral that we need, we could take each one and be perfectly healthy, as well as be at a lesser risk of developing cancer or other diseases. For me, this was important to realize, not only because people spend money on buying pills to be “healthy,” but also because taking these pills can have harmful effects, which many people are unaware of. It was also interesting to me that scientists still are not sure why vitamin supplements, which apparently contain nutrients crucial for human life, are so ineffective when taken as pills and are not found in our diets.

Kaplan, Karen. “Vitamin supplements don’t fight cancer, studies show.” LA Times. 21 Dec. 2008. 26 Mar. 2009.
“Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet: Selenium” Office of Dietary Supplements. 26 Mar. 2009.

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