The 4 most common supplements that could increase your risk of cancer

MILLIONS of people take a variety of supplements every day for a myriad of reasons.

We should be able to get all the vitamins and minerals we need from the food we eat – but that’s not always the case.

It's safe for many people to take supplements every day, but research shows that certain vitamins may pose a risk to your health


It’s safe for many people to take supplements every day, but research shows that certain vitamins may pose a risk to your healthPhoto credit: OJO-Getty

If you are a little short of some of them, or if medications or health conditions are preventing you from absorbing nutrients properly, supplements can be beneficial.

Sometimes your GP will advise you to take certain supplements or even prescribe certain supplements for you.

It is important that if you are prescribed medication that you do not stop taking it without first talking to your GP.

While supplements can be useful, studies have shown that there are some pills that might actually increase your risk of cancer.

1. Selenium

Selenium is a mineral found in foods like oysters, Brazil nuts, eggs, yellowfin tuna, sardines, and sunflower seeds.

It has a number of benefits including promoting metabolic health and aiding in metabolism thyroid Function.

A Cochrane review The study, published in 2018, looked specifically at the supplement and whether it might help reduce the risk of cancer.

Experts found it didn’t reduce the chance of cancer, and some studies even reported a higher risk of prostate cancer.

Experts noted that patients taking the supplement also had a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The NHS says you should have 0.075mg of selenium a day if you’re a man and 0.060mg a day if you’re a woman – this applies to ages 19-64.

2. Beta carotene

Carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli all contain beta-carotene, and most people can get enough from their diet.

People usually take it as a supplement to promote good eye health and vision, as well as healthy skin.

A study Released in 2019 found an association between those taking a dietary supplement and lung cancer.

This has been found in people who smoke or have previously been exposed to asbestos.

Experts studied 29,000 male smokers and found that those who took 20 mg of beta-carotene daily for five to eight years had an 18 percent higher risk of lung cancer.

“Do not take more than 7 mg of beta-carotene supplements per day unless recommended by a doctor.

“People who smoke or have been exposed to asbestos are advised not to take beta-carotene supplements,” says the NHS.

3. Folic acid

Folic acid is an important nutritional supplement – and one that’s recommended for pregnant women during pregnancy.

This is because as the baby develops, it helps form its neural tubes.

It’s especially important as it can help prevent some serious birth defects, such as brain and spine problems Center for Disease Control says.

The NHS recommends that you take: 400 micrograms of folic acid daily – from before you become pregnant until you are 12 weeks pregnant.

If you are not pregnant you should have 200 micrograms per day.

A tucked-in note 2019 found an association between folic acid supplements and colon cancer.

People who took folic acid and B12 pills had a 21 percent higher risk of cancer.

The experts found that 38 percent of those examined had an increased risk of dying from the disease.

It’s important to note that this was a study of just 1,021 people, all of whom were diagnosed with colon cancer.

4. Vitamin E

It’s easy to get enough vitamin E from peanuts, almonds, spinach, and bell peppers.

The NHS says you need 4mg a day for men and 3mg a day for women.

A study Released in 2012 found that supplementing your diet with vitamin E could increase the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men.

This was specific to vitamin E with high doses of α-tocopherol, which is a type of vitamin E numbered E307.

It’s important to note that people with cancer often take nutritional supplements.

experts at Cancer Research UK explains: “You may need supplements if you are low in certain nutrients.

“Some hormone treatments for breast and prostate cancer can weaken your bones.

“So your doctor might prescribe you calcium and vitamin D to protect your bones.”

They added that some cancers can prevent you from easily absorbing nutrients from food – so your doctor might prescribe a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement.

“Most people use nutritional supplements alongside their cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. However, others choose to use them instead of traditional treatments.

“Taking dietary supplements instead of conventional cancer treatment could be harmful to your health.

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“It could decrease the chance of curing or controlling your cancer,” they added.

If you are considering taking any dietary supplements, seek advice from your GP or a nutritionist.

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