Calcium supplements linked to cancer in major study

A link was found with calcium supplements but not calcium in food

A link was found with calcium supplements but not calcium in food Credit Anthony Devlin

"Our results support the idea that. there are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren't seen with supplements", seniorstudy author Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in MA, said in a statement. And ultimately, the research has found only associations and does not prove that certain nutrients in foods lengthen life.

The new research indicates that supplements don't help to reduce cardiovascular disease, cancer or death, though getting nutrients directly from food does.

The study used a nationally representative sample comprised of data from more than 27,000 USA adults ages 20 and older to evaluate the association between dietary supplement use and death from all causes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cancer.

Limitations in the study were acknowledged, which included the duration of dietary supplement use studied, as well as the fact that the prevalence and dosage of supplements were self-reported, leaving the study open to recall bias.

The study found that people who consume adequate amounts of vitamin K or magnesium had a lower risk of death from any cause during the study period, compared with those who didn't get adequate levels of these nutrients.

One main takeaway from the study, Zhang says, is that if your diet is made up mostly of nutritious foods, supplements won't necessarily offer any additional benefits.

People who took high doses of calcium via supplement had a 53% higher risk of dying from cancer than people who were not taking supplements, the study says.

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Now a new study from Tufts University says it all again with this simple conclusion: "Use of dietary supplements is not associated with mortality benefits among US adults".

Lead scientist Dr Fang Fang Zhang, said: 'It is important to understand the role that the nutrient and its source might play in health outcomes, particularly if the effect might not be beneficial.

Measurements for the study included data on participants' use of dietary supplements in the previous 30 days, along with their nutrient intake from food and supplements. Excess consumption of calcium was associated with a higher risk of death from cancer.Food sources of vitamin K include leafy greens such as kale, spinach and broccoli rabe. "It would also be worth exploring whether supplements might be helpful among those who have nutritional deficiencies". And those whose diet had enough of vitamins A and K, copper, and zinc cut the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by half.

Professor Tom Sanders, of King's College London, said: 'People who self-medicate with supplements are often the "worried well" or those who have health problems.

Other supplements can cause harm. A lifetime of a poor diet and lack of physical exercise can not be made up with supplements and vitamins.

'However, in general terms, those otherwise healthy may do better overall to concentrate on consuming a healthy diet rich in vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grain and fruit than to spend money on supplements.

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