The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    More bad new for vitamins to prevent cancer

     January is turning out to be a bad month for vitamins and their purported anticancer effects.

    Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston add to the negative results.

    First, the details.

    • 8171 women in the Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study were randomly assigned to take vitamin C (500 mg of ascorbic acid daily), natural-source vitamin E (600 IU of alpha-tocopherol every other day), and beta carotene (50 mg every other day) alone or in combination vs placebo.
    • 7627 of the women were cancer free before the study.

    And, the results.

    • During the next 9 years, 624 women developed invasive cancer and 176 women died from cancer.
    • There was no statistically significant effect of any vitamin on total cancer incidence.
    • Duration and combined use of the 3 antioxidants also had no effect on cancer incidence and cancer death.
    • There were no differences in side effects among the groups.

    The bottom line?
    This is the second study this month to conclude that taking vitamin C doesn’t prevent cancer, and the third to conclude vitamin E doesn’t either. Both were summarized here.

    It’s possible that the women who participated were not compliant with treatment. However, based on what we now know, taking vitamin E is not wise. It’s not a cancer preventative and may not be safe.

    A review of the literature in 2005 concluded, “High-dosage (greater than 400 IU/day) vitamin E supplements may increase all-cause mortality and should be avoided.”

    1/11/09 18:36 JR

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