Friday, August 24, 2007

Antioxidants May INCREASE Cancer Risk

I came across a headline straight out of Bizzaro World today at ABC News: “Antioxidants May Up Women's Skin Cancer Risk.”

Yup, once wholesome, pure things like vitamin C and E (some common antioxidants), friends of us health-obsessed types for years, are now scarred with asterisks, like Barry Bond’s homerun record in the annals of MLB history.

So here’s the deal. In a French study, researchers found women age 35 to 60 taking a supplement with antioxidants (C, E, beta carotene and selenium) had a 68 percent greater risk of getting skin cancer. That’s a big percent.

Critics of the study say the number of skin cancer cases, 157 out of the 13,000 people in the study, was too small to make any solid conclusions. Also, critics suggest the women were too old for the antioxidants to have an effect.

Still, 68 percent? If the difference were five or 10 percent, then I’d be a bit more onboard with the critics. At the very least, this study strongly contends antioxidants don’t do much good when it comes to fighting skin cancer.

Some experts weren’t surprised by the findings. They point to previous research showing antioxidants do not protect heart health in women and other studies which show beta carotene in high doses can increase lung cancer risk for smokers.

Another interesting observation by researchers, the increased risk was not found in men. Possible reasons for this include the fact that women have higher concentrations of antioxidants in their skin, they have estrogen receptors in their skin and, according to one physician, “women have thinner skin than males.”

For more on disgraced foods and vitamins,
check out this post.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.