Vitamin E and other antioxidants linked to lung cancer


Vitamin E and other antioxidants linked to lung cancer

Vitamin E and other antioxidants linked to lung cancer | Study finds why some supplements might be risky…

I often get asked by my patients what supplements or vitamins they should be taking.

I am of the opinion that the best way to get vitamins and nutrients is through your diet, through the food that you cook into a delicious meal. Now research has shown that gulping down vitamin E supplements may not be such a good idea.

New preliminary research in Sweden, published in Science Translational Medicine, shows that some antioxidants, including vitamin E, can actually promote lung cancer.

The research on mice showed that the extra vitamins apparently blocked one of the body’s key cancer-fighting mechanisms allowing existing tumors to proliferate.

The research does not mean you should give up a diet naturally rich in antioxidants from whole foods, however: the mice in the study received supplemental doses of vitamin E from four to 50 times the recommended daily intake in the U.S. But it does raise interesting questions and may explain why research in smokers has found high doses may actually raise their risk of tumours.

According to The Associated Press:

The scientists stressed that they can’t make general health recommendations based on studies in mice, but said their work backs up existing cautions about antioxidant use.

“You can walk around with an undiagnosed lung tumor for a long time,” said study co-author Martin Bergo of the University of Gothenburg. For someone at high risk, such as a former smoker, taking extra antioxidants “could speed up the growth of that tumor.”

The research doesn’t examine whether antioxidants might help prevent tumors from forming in the first place — only what happens if cancer already has begun.

The researchers gave Vitamin E, in a range of supplement doses, or an antioxidant drug named N-acetylcysteine to mice engineered to have lung cancer.

The antioxidants did prevent some cell damage. But doing so prevented a well-known tumour-suppressing gene named p53 from getting the signal to do its job, explained study co-author and Gothenburg biologist Per Lindahl.

The antioxidants “allow the cancer cells to escape their own defense system,” he said.

Study Finds Why Some Supplements Might Be Risky | The Associated Press

Feature image: Image: Flickr, John Liu

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