Study: Supplement poses risk for prostate cancer

October 11, 2011 3:12:21 PM PDT
Prostate cancer in men is prevalent and life threatening. Treatment is difficult and sometimes life altering, which is why prevention is of high interest to many men.

A new study today says one supplement may pose a danger and increase a man's risk for disease.

Pat Garrity and his wife, Judy, are enjoying life as senior citizens. Like many older men, Pat is interested in staying healthy and cutting down his risk of disease, which is why he joined a study to investigate whether taking supplements like Selenium and Vitamin E could cut down on his risk of prostate cancer.

"I thought it was an opportunity because of the large study base to get some factual data to prove or disprove the idea that selenium or Vitamin E might be beneficial," he said.

Pat was one of 35 thousand men, around the country and in Canada, taking part in the study.

In 2008, the results of the research showed there was "no benefit" in taking these supplements and preventing prostate cancer, but the researches also saw an intriguing trend.

"We did notice however at the time the original study was closed that men who were taking Vitamin E alone were trending toward having a higher risk of prostate cancer," said Eric A. Klein, M.D., Cleveland Clinic Super.

So, Dr. Klein and co-researches continued tracking the men, even though they were no longer taking the supplements. What they discovered then are the findings they published today.

"Men who took Vitamin E alone at 400 international units a day in addition to a normal diet were at a 17 percent higher risk of developing prostate cancer," said Dr. Klein.

Seventeen percent is a slight, moderate increase, but it suggests that vitamin supplementation is not always beneficial.

Pat and Judy say their emphasis is eating healthy, with varied fruits, nuts and vegetables, so they can get all their vitamins. They make sure any other supplement that they think of taking is always ran through their physician first.

Neither vitamin E nor Selenium seems to prevent any other important health issues like lung or colon cancer or all cancers lumped together, they don't prevent cardio-vascular disease or events and they don't make people live longer.