Dietary supplements linked to increased cancer risk

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Consumers are always looking for ways to minimize their cancer risk, which is one reason why many turn to over-the-counter vitamin and mineral supplements. But new research finds that while companies promote dietary supplements for their cancer-prevention benefit, some may end up doing more harm than good.

Dr. Tim Byers, director for cancer prevention and control at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, conducted a meta-analysis of two decades worth of research — 12 trials that involved more than 300,000 people — and found a number of supplements actually made a person much more likely to develop certain types of cancer.

Byers found that people who took high doses beta carotene supplements had an increased risk for lung cancer. Selenium supplements were associated with skin cancer. Men who took vitamin E had an elevated risk for prostate cancer. Folic acid, a B vitamin, taken in excess could lead to an increased risk for colon cancer.

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