Supplements: Can they do more harm than good?



Supplements Tied to Higher Prostate Cancer Risk

Recently, the abc news Medical Unit reported on an incredibly controversial topic – the use of Supplements.

A new study might have men thinking twice about taking supplements.

The study, published today in the Journal of National Cancer Institute, links the micronutrients selenium and vitamin E to an increased risk of prostate cancer — a disease the supplements were once thought to prevent.

The finding is the latest to come out of the SELECT Trial, an ongoing study of more than 35,000 American men aged 55 and older. The trial started on the hunch that certain supplements might reduce the risk of prostate cancer. But initial results in 2008 suggested that selenium and vitamin E, taken alone or together, did not prevent prostate cancer. In fact vitamin E supplements appeared to raise the risk of the disease by 17 percent.

At the time, participants were instructed to stop taking these supplements but to keep checking in with the researchers. Now, more than five years later, it appears supplementing with high doses of selenium nearly doubled the risk of high-grade prostate cancer in some men. High doses of vitamin E more than doubled the risk of high-grade prostate cancer among other men in the study.

“High dose micronutrients were believed to reduce cancer risk, and our trial was started to prove that,” said study author Alan Kristal, a professor of epidemiology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “These micronutrients turn out to be toxic.

“What I would like people to understand is that we now know of no added benefits of taking these supplements in high amounts,” Kristal added.



Interviews were conducted with:

Dr. Durado Brooks, director of prostate and colorectal cancers at the American Cancer Society

Dr. Alan Kristal, a professor of epidemiology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.



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Dr. Danielle Krol, a native of the Philadelphia area, spent the majority of her early life growing up in New Jersey. With over 15 years’ experience in Dance and Theatrical Arts, Dr. Krol was pursuing a career as an actress until her mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. For the 3 years that followed, Dr. Krol placed her life on hold and took the responsibility of Caretaker for her terminally ill mother. Her passion for medicine came about during her mother’s illness, and her determination to become a doctor came about after her passing in 2002.