BY LIZZY SMITH
In an attempt to heal, stay healthy, and ward of cancer, it may seem tempting to take massive amounts of vitamins. After all, if a few vitamins are good, lots of vitamins must be great, right? If a particular vitamin is a good anti-inflammatory, or if we have low iron levels, or keep getting colds, popping a handful of vitamins seems like a logical idea.
My entire life, I thought that the healthier I was, the greater chance I had of never getting cancer. So I consistently worked out, ate healthy, and took (you guessed it) lots of vitamins. I am not intimating that that’s the reason I got myeloma. Not at all. Why we get this disease I will never know (who does?). But now that I’m on this journey, I do take lots of vitamins in addition to eating loads of organic fresh fruits and veggies, beans, nuts– all the good stuff I can — plus a fair amount of cookies and French fries. See, I’m not perfect. But are those vitamins causing me more harm than good? I’ve run my list of supplements past my doctor. He said not to take large amounts of any supplements and to stay away from curcumin (not every doctor agrees with this approach, so make sure you discuss your situation with your oncologist!). Other than that, no one has told me otherwise. So I’ve been taking some 15 vitamins per day that includes iron, calcium, vitamin-C, vitamin-D, a multi vitamin, fish oil, and more. Good idea? Perhaps not.
Dr. Tim Byers, of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, led research involving thousands of people over a ten-year period. Findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research on April 20. Dr. Byers said: “The evidence shows people who take more dietary supplements than needed tend to have a higher risk of developing cancer.” The study further determined that while taking supplements, more people developed more types of cancer.
For example, beta-carotene was found to raise the risk of lung cancer and heart disease by 20 per cent when taken at above the recommended dose.
Vitamin B9, or folic acid, was thought to help reduce colon polyps, which can lead to bowel cancer. But in a trial it actually increased the number of polyps.
But… we myeloma patients are not a typical person. Many of us have real deficiencies and that’s where blood work and a good doctor come in (along with a good nutritionist).
If you don’t know this, here’s a fact: supplements are not regulated like pharma drugs. That means vitamin companies may not be offering top-notch products and their claims may be incredibly misleading. I suppose lesson learned here is to proceed with caution and never take more than the recommended dosage. Eat healthy. Plant-based diets are always a wise idea.
“Taken in recommended amounts, vitamins and minerals are safe,” the study concluded.
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