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Antioxidant supplements may prevent breast cancer

By David Liu, PHD

Thursday Aug 2, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Taking antixodant vitamins for a long term may help prevent breast cancer, according to a study published in the Aug 24, 2011 issue of BMC Cancer.

The study led by S.Y. Pan of Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and colleagues showed that premenopausal women who had taken zinc supplements for 10 years or longer were 54 percent less likely to develop breast cancer, compared to those who had not.

The study also showed that supplementation of multivitamin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc for 10 or more years was associated with 26, 42, 21, 25, and 53 percent reduced risk of breast cancer, respectively, in postmenopausal women.

On the other hand, dietary antioxidants including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and zinc or supplementation of antioxidants for less than 10 years were not associated with reduced risk of developing breast cancer.

The study was based on data collected from 2,362 cases with pathologically confirmed incident breast cancer (866 premenopausal and 1,496 postmenopausal) and 2,462 controls in Canada. Participants were surveyed through a self-reported questionnaire.

The researchers concluded "This study suggests that supplementation of zinc in premenopausal women, and supplementation of multiple vitamin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc in postmenopausal women for 10 or more years may protect women from developing breast cancer."

Breast cancer is expected to be diagnosed in 220,000 women in 2012 in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute.