Nutrition News Update:

Multi-Vitamins and Prostate Cancer Risk

Categories: Spring 2008

The place of diet, vitamins and supplements for prostate health is in limbo.

New studies are showing that even foods we thought were helpful, such as those with lycopene, seem to have no benefit. And some of them, such as heavy doses of beta-carotene are proving harmful. (See Nutrition News Updates: Winter Quest, 2007on

Recently, the National Cancer Institute reported on a study tracking the diet and health of 300,000 men. A third of those men took daily multivitamins and 5 percent of them were heavy users.

In the men from that study who were diagnosed with prostate cancer, heavy multivitamin users were about twice as likely to get a more aggressive prostate cancer.

The study found no connection between multivitamin use and early stage prostate cancer. Researchers proposed that possibly high-dose vitamins had little effect until a tumor appeared and then they might somehow encourage or stimulate the cancer growth.

Clearly, more research is needed in this area. But there is a possibility that increased use of supplements could cause harm rather than help in prostate health. The key word appears to be moderation.

I currently recommend that you can eat anything in moderation, but if you eat meat, white meat is better than red meat. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is preferable. Fats that are liquid at room temperature (olive oil or corn oil) are healthier than those that are solids, such as cheese or butter.

The supplements I recommend are selenium 200 micrograms per day and an inexpensive multivitamin capsule with extra calcium.

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