Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Vitamin C, E Pills Fail to Prevent Cancer

    Study Shows No Sign of Lower Cancer Risk in People Taking Vitamin E and Vitamin C Supplements
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Nov. 17, 2008 -- Taking vitamin E and vitamin C supplements may not make cancer less likely, a new study shows.

    That finding comes from the Physicians' Health Study II, which recently showed that taking vitamin C and vitamin E supplements may not lower the risk of heart attack or stroke.

    Researchers have now analyzed study data on cancer risk and found no sign of lower cancer risk in people taking vitamin E and vitamin C supplements daily during the study.

    Here's a look at the study, which was presented yesterday in Washington, D.C., at an international meeting on cancer prevention research hosted by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

    Supplement Study

    The study included some 14,600 male doctors aged 50 and older in the U.S.

    Some of the doctors were assigned to take 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E every other day. Others were assigned to take 500 milligrams of vitamin C every day during the study. For comparison, a third group of doctors got placebo pills.

    Among all the doctors, there were 1,929 cases of cancer, including 1,013 cases of prostate cancer, during the study. Cancer rates were similar among the doctors taking vitamin E or vitamin C supplements and those taking the placebo.

    "After nearly 10 years of supplementation with either vitamin E or vitamin C, we found no evidence supporting the use of either supplement in the prevention of cancer," Howard Sesso, ScD, MPH, says in an AACR news release.

    Sesso, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, adds that there was also no sign that either supplement was harmful.

    The findings are only about vitamin E and vitamin C from supplements, not foods.

    "Individual vitamin supplements such as vitamin E and C do not appear to provide the same potential advantages as vitamins included as part of a healthy, balanced diet," J. Michael Gaziano, MD, MPH, says in the AACR news release. Gaziano, an associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, worked with Sesso on the study.

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article