Multi Vitamins for Women Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

We’ve all heard (time and time again) that a daily vitamin is important in ensuring your body gets the nutrients it needs. One each day is supposed to help improve your overall health and protect against heart disease, perhaps even cancer. Now, a new observational study appearing online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that this “healthy” habit might actually increase your risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in U.S. women, though the rates have fallen in recent years.

This latest research involved more than 35,000 Swedish women (aged 49-83) who were cancer free and filled out a self-administered questionnaire that asked for information on multivitamin use and other breast cancer risk factors.

The women reported their own use of vitamins, though they didn’t provide any information on what brand they took. During the ten years of follow up, 974 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, 293 of these happened to the 9,017 women who said they took multivitamins daily.

The team found that women who reported taking vitamins each day were 19% more likely to have breast cancer than those who didn’t take any multivitamin. These findings held even after adjustments were made for things like family history, getting older, body mass index, smoking and alcohol use.

“The potential health benefits or adverse effects associated with multivitamin use are of great public health importance [and] the observed association is of concern and merits further investigation,” explain the researchers, led by Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, of the division of nutritional epidemiology at the National Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

There are lots of multivitamins on the market today. These preparations typically include 3 or more vitamins and dietary minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc) as well as some other nutritional elements.

You can find multivitamins in many forms… tablets, capsules, pastilles, powders and liquid… so you can choose the one that’s right for you. Your doctor will tell you that you should never buy a multivitamin that has more of a nutrient than your body can take in – more is not better. Never take more than directed on the label as you risk serious, potentially life-threatening, side effects.

So… how can something that’s supposed to be good for you, be trouble?

Continues below…


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Multivitamin Takers Have Higher Risk Of Breast Cancer… Continued…

The researchers aren’t sure, but theorize the folic acid that’s part of many multivitamin products might increase breast density, and this might stimulate the development of cancer. Other work has linked iron and zinc to increased cancer risk, though there have been studies that showed no association – so the question is still open for debate.

The new research also found that vitamin C, B-6 and E didn’t appear to have any impact on breast cancer risk. Calcium, in fact, seems to offer some protection against breast cancer.

” There may be some components within a multivitamin that could potentially increase risk of breast cancer, but the problem is we don’t know which component,” says Katherine Lee, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “I hope women don’t toss all their multivitamins yet.”

Getting essential vitamins from your diet is the best way to give your body the nutrients it needs. If you have concerns about your nutritional status, talk to your doctor about the foods you eat, and the ones you avoid. You might think about taking supplements that address specific deficiencies, instead of a multivitamin that gives you lots of things, many of which you might not even need.