Taking vitamin supplements for years fails to lower your overall risk of suffering cancer, according to a new study.
Researchers also found that beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E supplements had no effect on preventing cancer. The findings, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, followed two other important studies that also concluded that antioxidant supplements did not prevent cancer.
Dr JoAnn Manson, who carried out the research for Harvard Medical School in Boston, America, said: 'Although a healthful dietary pattern rich in fruits and vegetables may lower cancer risk, such benefits cannot be mimicked by simply popping a few vitamin supplements.'
The study tracked 7,627 women who were of an average age of 60 years and had taken supplements for more than nine years. The experiment saw patients take 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily, vitamin E tablets every other day or 50 milligrams of beta carotene every other day - or various combinations of the three supplements. Others were given placebos to act as a yardstick compared to the patients given vitamins.
The findings showed that women who took the supplements had similar rates of cancer and cancer deaths compared to those who took a placebo. But the study suggested that vitamin E supplements might reduce colon cancer risk and that beta carotene supplements might modestly raise lung cancer risk.
However, medical experts acknowledged that while the women took the supplements for almost a decade, the study may not be long enough to measure the full effects against cancer.