August 19, 2009

Study: Supplements Don’t Cause Melanoma

Antioxidant supplements do not appear to increase risk of melanoma, as previously suspected, according to a new report.

Findings in a recent randomized trial of antioxidants for cancer prevention seemed to suggest daily supplementation with nutritionally appropriate doses of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium and zinc increased the risk of melanoma in women four-fold. Because an estimated 48 to 55 percent of U.S. adults use vitamin or mineral supplements regularly, the potential for harmful effects from these nutrients was alarming, the authors noted.

Maryam M. Asgari, M.D., M.P.H., of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, and colleagues examined the association between antioxidants and melanoma among 69,671 women and men who were participating in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study, which was designed to examine supplement use and cancer risk. At the beginning of the study, conducted from 2000 to 2002, participants completed a 24-page questionnaire about lifestyle, health history, diet, supplement use and other cancer risk factors.

Intake of multivitamins and supplements during the previous 10 years, including selenium and beta-carotene, was not associated with melanoma risk in either women or men. The researchers also examined the risk of melanoma associated with long-term use of supplemental beta-carotene and selenium at doses comparable to the previous study and found no association.

"Consistent with the present results, case-control studies examining serologic [blood] levels of beta carotene, vitamin E and selenium did not find any association with subsequent risk of melanoma," the authors are quoted as saying. "Moreover, the Nurses' Health Study reported no association between intake of vitamins A, C and E and melanoma risk in 162,000 women during more than 1.6 million person-years of follow-up."

SOURCE: Archives of Dermatology, August 2009