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Antioxidants Don't Increase Melanoma Risk, Study Shows

Posted: August 19, 2009

Vitamins C, E and other antioxidants do not increase the risk for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, a new study found.

Recent research is showing antioxidants do not increase the risk for melanoma, in contrast to a recent study that had suggested that the risk for melanoma was increased four-fold among women who took supplemental vitamins C and E, beta carotene, selenium and zinc. Because 48–55% of U.S. adults take vitamin or mineral supplements, the potentially harmful effects of the supplements was alarming.

"As someone who takes supplements as a preventive measure, I was happy to see that the authors [of the new study] were able to debunk the claims of the prior study," said Dr. Robin Ashinoff, a dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center, who was not involved with the new research. The new report is published in the August issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

For the study, a team lead by Dr. Maryam M. Asgari, of Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, collected data on 69,671 women and men who participated in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study. It was designed to look at the use of supplements and the risk for cancer. At the start of the study, between 2000 and 2002, participants completed a questionnaire that included inquiries about lifestyle, medical history, diet, use of supplements and other cancer risk factors.

The researchers found that multivitamins and supplements taken over 10 years, including selenium and beta carotene, were not associated with the risk for melanoma among both women and men.