Calcium supplements linked to cancer in major study

Leslie Hanson
April 11, 2019

"I don't think you can undo the effect of a bad diet by taking supplements", said Kumar, an assistant professor of medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine. They can't prove if the nutrients from food can lengthen your life, but people who adopt healthy diets live longer.

According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, 75% of adults take dietary supplements.

The authors note some limitations, including the duration of dietary supplement use studied. Though some nutrients have been linked to lower mortality risk in general, you'll need to get those nutrients from actual food, not pills and powders, to reap the benefits. The sample comprised data from 30,899 USA adults aged 20 years old and above.

By analyzing adequate and excess nutrient intake, the scientists determined whether they are linked to death from all causes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Still, some of us believe in taking supplements to meet our daily nutritional needs. After that adjustment, the connection between supplements and longevity disappeared. They also found that lower risk of death associated with adequate nutrient intakes was due to nutrients from foods, not from supplements.

In fact, some supplements even appeared to come with health risks.

Furthermore, findings also show that excess calcium intake associated with supplemental calcium doses exceeding 1,000 mg per day is linked to an increased risk of cancer death.

The objective of the study was stated to be to "evaluate the association among dietary supplement use, levels of nutrient intake from foods and supplements, and mortality among U.S adults".

A new study is the latest research to show that most supplements may not do much to improve health and can't compete with the benefits of a healthy diet. Instead, the team found indications that use of vitamin D supplements by individuals with no sign of vitamin D deficiency may be associated with an increased risk of death from all causes including cancer.

Measurements for the study included data on participants' use of dietary supplements in the previous 30 days, along with their nutrient intake from food and supplements. Supplements also are not tightly regulated in the USA, meaning they can come with safety, efficacy and quality issues. One 2015 study estimated that unsafe or improperly taken supplements, including those for weight loss, send more than 23,000 Americans to the emergency room each year.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not hold supplements to the same standards as conventional foods or drugs, so manufacturers are responsible for handling safety testing and labeling themselves; the FDA only steps in when there's an issue with a product already being sold.

Our results support the idea that, while supplement use contributes to an increased level of total nutrient intake, there are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren't seen with supplements. Avoid supplements and consume green vegetables and fruit for good functioning of heart and kidney.

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