Vitamin E, Other Antioxidants Linked to Lung Cancer

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If you haven’t already dumped your daily multi-vitamins, yet more research is out questioning the benefits of vitamin supplements. New research shows that some antioxidants, including vitamin E, can actually promote lung cancer.

“Taking extra antioxidants might be harmful and could speed up the growth of (any) tumors,” biologist and co-author Martin Bergo of Gothenburg said. “If I had a patient with lung cancer, I would not recommend they take an antioxidant.”

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The research on mice showed that antioxidants lets cancer cells escape the natural defense system of healthy cells, allowing existing tumors to proliferate.

“Antioxidants caused the mice to die twice as fast, and the effect was dose-dependent,” senior author Dr. Martin Bergo said at a news conference. “If we gave a small dose, tumors grew a little. If we gave a high dose, tumors grew a lot.”

The findings, published in Science Translational Medicine, do 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.

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It’s also not clear whether antioxidants could cause lung cancer, or just exacerbate existing cancer.

Earlier human trials also found that the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E increased the incidence of lung cancer in smokers.

Photo: Vitamin E pills Credit: Tamorlan Wikimedia Commons