When Antioxidant Supplements Are Risky


In 2014 Buffalo, New York, had record snow falls (as they often do). The Buffalo Bills had to clear 220,000 tons of snow off their football field before they could even think of playing the scheduled game against the New York Jets.

But clearing out trouble isn’t always the smart move.

When it comes to cancer cells, the last thing you want to do is to clear a path for them to spread. But a study of human melanoma cells in mice out of the Children’s Research Institute at University of Texas Southwest found that taking high doses of antioxidant supplements (like vitamin E, beta carotene or vitamin C) might do just that. It appears that typically melanoma cells are kept from metastasizing by high levels of oxidative stress outside of cells (that’s what’s quelled by bloodborne and dietary antioxidants), so taking antioxidants allows them to spread more easily.

What does this mean for you? While healthy folks might do well to tamp down inflammatory effects, if you have undiagnosed or diagnosed cancer, taking more than recommended daily values (or super-doses) of antioxidant supplements could spell trouble. But don’t forget: One daily multivitamin for men 70-plus (and probably women, too) decreases cancer risk by 18 percent.


The smartest way to get the antioxidants you need is to eat dark leafy greens, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, blue and red berries and grapes, orange foods like yams and carrots, and omega-3-rich salmon. Those foods plus a daily multivitamin that delivers recommended levels will tackle unhealthy inflammation.


© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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Written by Drs. Oz and Roizen

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