Is Cancer Prevention in a Bottle?
Vermilion Today.Com

By Sarah Barbato

Miles Perret Cancer Services

I’m sure you’ve been there … standing on the vitamin and supplement aisle feeling overwhelmed with options. Each bottle begs for your attention with bright colors and bold claims. Bone and Breast Health Support. Maintain a healthy prostate. Build the Immune System. Who doesn’t want all that? Looks like cancer prevention can be put in an easy to swallow gelatin capsule. Supplements seem to be the answer to a fast-paced, eat-on-the-run lifestyle. Convenient! Or so I thought until I dug a little deeper.

American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends against relying on supplements to protect against cancer. John Baron, professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina says, “For most people, who are basically well nourished, these supplements don’t have the role in preventing cancer that people expect.”

Dr. Richard Lee, assistant professor in the Department of General Oncology and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center at MD Anderson also cautions patients on the use of supplements. He wants patients to think of supplements as “potent medicines because they are largely unregulated and may have adverse side effects.”

WebMD states that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way that it regulates medicine. A dietary supplement can be sold without research on how well it works.

AICR goes on to explain that scientists can pull phytochemicals from foods that have shown the ability to protect against cancer in laboratory studies; however, scientists can’t be sure that we’d get the same benefit when consumed in supplement form.

There’s no definitive evidence that supplementation with any vitamin or mineral helps prevent cancer states Dr. Lee. So what can we do to prevent cancer? He recommends the following:

1. Strive to get the essential nutrients the old-fashioned way. For a guaranteed dose of vitamins, consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.

2. Frequent, moderate exercise is a sure thing. It’s good for emotional and physical health. Even broken up into smaller increments, exercise is important.

3. Find out if you need the supplements through a blood screening. If you are deficient, aim for 100% and no more of recommended vitamins and minerals.

AICR concurs with their top three cancer prevention tips:

1. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork, and lamb), and avoid processed meats.

2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. The link between physical activity and cancer prevention is certain.

3. Maintain a healthy weight.

At Miles Perret Cancer Services, we offer quarterly nutrition classes to help survivors navigate the role food choices play in wellness. And once you incorporate more healthy food choices into your routine, the next step is to figure out what to do with your extra cabinet space once the bottles are gone! If you have any cancer related questions, please email sbarbato@milesperret.org

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