Studies Say Vitamins, Selenium Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer

December 9, 2008


By Anne Harding

TUESDAY, Dec. 9, 2008 ( — Men who want to reduce their prostate cancer risk shouldn’t bother popping antioxidant vitamins and supplements, according to two of the largest trials ever conducted on vitamins and cancer prevention. The studies published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium won’t ward off prostate cancer—or other types of the disease—in men.

In one study, 35,533 cancer-free men in their 50s or older took selenium and vitamin E alone or in combination. Several years later, they had the same risk of developing the disease as men who took a placebo. In a second study of 14,641 men—some of whom may have had early-stage prostate cancer—a combination of vitamin E and vitamin C didn’t prevent prostate cancer, or any other type of cancer.

“It looks like these particular antioxidants are not effective,” says Howard Soule, PhD, chief scientific officer of the Prostate Cancer Foundation in Santa Monica, Calif., who was not involved in either study.

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 6 men will get prostate cancer in his lifetime, and 1 in 35 will die of the disease. The ACS estimates that 28,660 U.S. men will die of prostate cancer in 2008, accounting for roughly 10% of all cancer-related deaths in men.

Next: Why vitamins seemed promising for prostate cancer prevention

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