Lower Vitamin C Means Higher Cancer Risk for Men
WebMD News Archive
For example, in this study prostate cancer was responsible for only 7% of
the cancer mortality in men, while breast cancer caused 20% of the cancer
deaths in women. On the other hand, lung and other cancers of the respiratory
tract produced 47% of the cancer mortality in men, compared to 19% in
Death from heart disease also was high in men with the lowest vitamin C
levels, but that increase disappeared when other heart disease risk factors
were taken into account.
These data "seem to say there's an effect on mortality" when the
intake of vitamin C and, possibly other vitamins, is low, says Gail Frank, RD,
DrPh, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
When people improve their diets, "these types of articles tell us
there's a payoff," Frank says. But "doing megadoses of a single vitamin
is not the way [to address the situation]," she warns, because it could
alter the way the body metabolizes the vitamin. "What we do have in common
with two decades ago [when the data were first collected] is the number of
servings of fruits and vegetables we have coming in. That has not changed. I
continue to be concerned that in the adult population we have not increased our
intake of the recommended five servings a day." Frank is a professor of
nutrition at California State University in Long Beach.
"Recent surveys suggest that most people [still] aren't getting enough
fruits and vegetables, including children, and that's alarming," says
nutritionist Ruth Frechman, RD, who reviewed the paper for WebMD. "When my
clients go to the grocery store, I suggest that they try [a fruit or vegetable]
they've never had before. I also urge them to go to local farmers' markets"
to sample locally grown produce. Frechman is a nutrition counselor in Burbank,
Calif., and spokeswoman for the California Dietetic Association. Neither she
nor Frank was involved in the study.
Loria agrees. "These findings are consistent with dietary guidelines to
eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Otherwise, people
are potentially at risk of developing some chronic diseases," she says. She
recommends getting vitamins from foods rather than supplements because food
"has many other nutrients, as well as fiber. Certainly, the best approach
is to eat a healthy diet."