A recent study has shown a link between the consumption of antioxidant vitamins and an increase in the spread of skin cancer in the studies participants. Additionally, intake of these supplements has also been shown to increase the spread of lung cancer.
New research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden suggests that people who take antioxidant vitamins regularly are twice as likely to experience an increase in their melanoma metastasis. Martin Bergö, a professor at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy, led a team of researchers in studying the potential effects of antioxidants on the spread of lung cancer cells in the body.
One study conducted on mice showed that antioxidant supplementation actually doubled the rate their cancer metastasised. In addition to the spread of the cancer, the mice also developed more tumors that posed a greater threat to their life. Many people know the benefits antioxidants provide in protecting against cancer so why would it cause it to spread?
Bergö explained that contrary to earlier studies on lung cancer, the initial tumor was not affected by antioxidants, but the supplements enhanced the ability of cancer cells to spread throughout the body. This is considered to be a more serious health issue as metastasis is one of the primary causes of death in melanoma cases. Bergö added that the initial tumor is not as dangerous compared to the resulting more aggressive tumors from antioxidants and it is often removed.
Unfortunately this was then seen in the patients with malignant cancers of different types. Numerous studies were reviewed and the take home message is that antioxidants do have protective effects against free radicals which can make cells cancerous, however, they can also work to protect cancer cells once a tumor has already developed.
The recent findings were later confirmed through tests on cell cultures taken from patients with malignant cancers. The researchers were able to show that antioxidant supplements hasten the development of melanoma in two different ways.
Unfortunately many cancer patients turn to antioxidant supplements due to its popular anti-cancer label. Not only could this be doing more harm than good but there is also research to indicate that it may make cancer treatments less affective as well.
Previous research at Sahlgrenska Academy has indicated that cancer patients are particularly prone to take supplements containing antioxidants,” Bergö pointed out. “Our current research combined with information from large clinical trials with antioxidants suggests that people who have been recently diagnosed with cancer should avoid such supplements.
We also need to be cautious of non-dietary or supplemental sources of antioxidants such as skin lotions.
According to the Gothenburg study, it is important to explore the role of antioxidants in melanoma cases not only because cells from this particular type of cancer are sensitive to free radicals but because they can also be exposed to antioxidants through non-dietary means.
Bergö said that suntan lotions and skin lotions may sometimes include vitamin E or beta carotene, which could produce the similar effects on melanoma cells as antioxidants contained in nutritional supplements.