Vitamin supplements may increase lung cancer risk in smokers

March 1st, 2008 - 10:21 am ICT by admin  

Washington, March 1 (IANS) Vitamin supplements don’t protect against lung cancer. In fact, some may even increase the risk, especially among smokers, a new study has established. “Our study of supplemental multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate did not show any evidence for a decreased risk of lung cancer,” wrote the study’s author, Christopher G. Slatore of the University of Washington.

Slatore and his colleagues selected 77,126 men and women between 50 and 76 years in a Washington state VITAL (VITamins And Lifestyle) Study.

They determined their rate of developing lung cancer over four years with respect to their current and past vitamin usage, smoking and other demographic and medical characteristics.

Of the original lot, 521 developed lung cancer, the expected rate for a low-risk group such as VITAL.

But among those who did, in addition to unsurprising associations with smoking history, family history and age, there was a slight but significant association between use of supplemental vitamin E and lung cancer.

“In contrast to the often assumed benefits or at least lack of harm, supplemental vitamin E was associated with a small increased risk of lung cancer,” said Slatore.

The increased risk was equivalent to a seven percent rise for every 100 mg per day.

“This risk translates into a 28 percent increased risk of lung cancer at a dose of 400 mg per day for 10 years,” wrote Slatore. The increased risk was most prominent in current smokers.

The idea that vitamin supplements are healthy, or at the very least, do no harm, comes from the desire of many people to mimic the benefits of a healthy diet with a convenient pill, said Tim Byers, of University of Colorado School of Medicine.

The findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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