The Lancet has covered a recent study by Dr Goran Bjelakovic in Copenhagen, Denmark. In this study 14 pieces of research were reviewed in conjunction with gastrointestinal cancers (including bowel, stomach and liver). Researchers looked at the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamins A, C and E and selenium.
No benefit for the vitamins was found
No benefit for the vitamins was found, although there seemed merit in taking selenium.
Dr Richard Sullivan of Cancer Research cautioned people on the results because many people in the studies were smokers who have a higher risk of death from cancer anyway. (Bjelakovic had gone as far as saying that the combination of beta-carotene with vitamin A actually increased mortality by 30 per cent; and beta-carotene with vitamin E increased it by 10 per cent). At Last - the definitive, research based book on how to build a diet to help beat cancer. Click here to read about it.
(Ed: We side with Cancer Research UK on this one. Firstly, the research incorporated a disproportionate number of smokers and we know there is some negative effect of beta-carotene with smokers.
Secondly, the group finds no benefit in these antioxidants, although in our review of each of the separate vitamins we gave readers details of research studies showing benefits.
Regular takers of multivitamins had a 35 per cent decrease in these types of cancer
Thirdly, this research conflicts totally with the research in icon July/August 2004 from the USA where regular takers of multivitamins had a 35 per cent decrease in these types of cancer.
Probably the issue is "which vitamins?" Vitamin D, for example, is known to be beneficial for these cancers.
The Swedish group also recommended eating 5 lots of fruit and vegetables per day, yet nowhere in their research is that a conclusion. Worse, work in the Boston Nurses Study found the only vegetable of merit was garlic.
Medical professionals and patients should treat this study with extreme caution, especially as some of the press coverage has made rather inaccurate and sweeping statements.)