Multivitamins Could Counteract Cancer Treatment, Famed DNA Researcher Posits

Multivitamins are touted as a smart and effective health booster, but one researcher says that the supplements may do more harm than good, at least for cancer patients receiving treatment.

In recent years, the overall impact of multivitamins has been contested as the benefits of vitamins from sources other than food have been examined. A 2007 study on multivitamins and their effect seemed to indicate that, rather than extending life, the use of vitamins may actually have the effect of shortening it.

But Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, said to take that research on multivitamins with a grain of salt — explaining that cause of death was not noted in the study. He told Oprah:

” … nowhere in the study did it say how people died … That research looked at all-cause mortality, which means if you died of a homicide or in a car accident—or anything else—and you were a participant in this study, it would count.”

Business Insider recently published an article about multivitamins and their effects on cancer patients, quoting Nobel Prize winner Prof. James Watson, who discovered DNA’s double helix along with Francis Crick in 1953. Watson, who says his research on multivitamins and cancer is “among my most important work since the double helix,” warns that antioxidants may be impeding treatment for cancer.

In the Royal Society’s Open Biology journal, the site quotes Watson as arguing:

“For as long as I have been focused on the understanding and curing [of] cancer, well-intentioned individuals have been consuming antioxidative nutritional supplements as cancer preventatives if not actual therapies … In light of the recent data strongly hinting that much of late-stage cancer’s untreatability may arise from its possession of too many antioxidants, the time has come to seriously ask whether antioxidant use much more likely causes than prevents cancer.”

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Watson continues:

“Blueberries [which are high in antioxidants] best be eaten because they taste good, not because their consumption will lead to less cancer.”

In the piece on BI, several cancer experts concur that multivitamins may cause cancer-therapy conflicts that impact treatment effectiveness.

Do you take a multivitamin?