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Cancer Center Leaps to Wrong Conclusions After Reviewing Faulty Supplement Studies

Posted By Tim Reihm, Director of Communications & Outreach - Alliance for Natural Health, USA, Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Health advocacy group calls the University of Colorado’s analysis “grievously flawed” and “premature”

April 22, 2015 — The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA) today recommended caution regarding the University of Colorado Cancer Center’s claim that dietary supplements have been “shown to increase cancer risk.” According to Gretchen DuBeau, ANH-USA’s legal and executive director, the center’s conclusions, which were presented at a forum at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2015, are based in part on studies that have been largely discredited.

“Leaving aside the hysteria with which media outlets have been reporting this very minor story, with headlines like ‘Too many vitamins can give you CANCER, major new study warns the millions who take them,’” DuBeau said, “the research on which these dire conclusions are based is not new, by any means. This was a meta-analysis of twelve trials conducted with wildly varying parameters, inputs, and controls over two decades, and some of those studies were grievously flawed. This reduces the significance of any findings tremendously, since one study cannot be directly compared to another. And because this new analysis has not yet been published, it hasn’t been subjected to any peer review process, so any real conclusions are premature at best.”

According to scientists and reviewers familiar with the analysis, one of the trials was the SELECT study, the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial of 2008. In it, participants were given vitamin E in the form of synthetic alpha-tocopherol—an incomplete form of the vitamin not found in nature. “Vitamin E is comprised of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols,” DuBeau explained. “Too much alpha-tocopherol can interfere with your body’s use of the arguably more important gamma form. No information was kept on the participants’ dietary or exercise habits or other lifestyle considerations. And a peer-reviewed study published in the respected Journal of the National Cancer Institute demonstrated a 32% reduction in prostate cancer incidence in response to daily vitamin E supplementation! Studies in other scientific journals tell a similar story.”

The current meta-analysis also noted concerns over vitamin B and a risk of colon cancer. “But once again, the researchers tested the wrong stuff,” says DuBeau. “They used folic acid, a synthetically produced form that is widely used to fortify processed foods. The important thing to remember is that folic acid is not itself biologically active, and 30% to 40% of the population can’t efficiently convert synthetic folic acid into folate, the naturally occurring form of the vitamin that the body can actually use. So of course these people would never see any benefits from supplementing with folic acid.”
DuBeau has some sound advice for consumers worried about all the contradictory, frightening warnings about supplements being disseminated by the media: talk to an integrative physician or other healthcare professional who understands things like co-factors (which supplements need to be taken together), take appropriate therapeutic doses, and choose the highest quality supplements possible.

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About the Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA) 
The Alliance for Natural Health USA is part of an international organization dedicated to promoting natural, sustainable healthcare through good science and good law. We protect the right of natural health practitioners to practice, and the right of consumers to choose the healthcare options and treatment modalities they prefer, including complementary and alternative medicine. As a membership-based organization, we unite consumers, practitioners, and industry to speak with a common voice and have worked since 1992 to shift the medical paradigm from an exclusive focus on surgery, drugs and other conventional techniques to an “integrative” approach incorporating food, dietary supplements, and lifestyle changes.

Tags:  cancer  dietary supplements  university of colorado 

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