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Cancer Prevention by Taking Supplements May Do More Harm Than Good

On Sunday, 19 July 09, Dr Albert Lim wrote an article in The Star called “First, do no harm. Current chemoprevention stategies may do more harm than good“.

He said that Dr John D Potter, a well known figure amongst scientists who are interested in cancer prevention gave a lecture on Chemoprevention: Why do we keep getting it wrong?

Some important take home points from the article as food for thought:

  • there is lack of benefit and even potential harm of food supplements, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, hormones, and a host of assorted drugs and chemicals when they are taken in large doses over a long time in the hope of preventing cancer
  • folates, coxibs (a class of anti-inflammatory drugs), oestrogens/ progestins and beta-carotenes (inactive form of vitamin A) found in supplements have been found to lead to an increased incidence of large colonic polyps (which may lead to colon cancer) and lung cancer.
  • sometimes patient develop gastritis and intestinal bleeding from taking coxibs
  • aspirin, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E had not been shown as effective in cancer prevention.
  • our body is made to adopt to a certain acceptable range of intake of nutrients. Taking supplements- with concentrated megadoses- more than what our body had adapted since evolution may be just a time bomb waiting to explode

And an important point from the article:

Vitamin A, C, and E, and selenium are harmful to patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. Why is that so?

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy kills the cancer cells via free radicals. When the patient takes supplements of vitamin A, C, E or selenium, the free radicals (emitted from the treatment) are wiped out by the supplements because of its antioxidant properties. When the free radicals are dramatically reduced (by megadoses in the supplement), what is left to kill off the cancer cells?

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So, the patient goes through the suffering and hell during the treatment but takes supplement to lessen the effectiveness of the treatment.

Dr Albert Lim ended with the following:

Why do millions of people persist in taking chemicals and mega doses of vitamins to prevent cancer despite evidence that they do more harm than good? Is it possible that all the scientists and oncologists are wrong? Is there a conspiracy between the doctors and Big Pharma? Is it a case of not enough publicity given to negative studies?

The simplest explanation is usually the one closest to the truth. It is the conjunction of vested interests like multilevel marketeers who promote cancer-prevention drugs and a credulous public beset with fears of cancer and death.

To read the article, click HERE.

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