Vitamins / minerals reduce cancer risk, may lengthen life & prevent bone loss
Studies on women show reduced womb cancer & effects on biological ageing ‘markers’ & bone strength
by the ANH team
A recent review of evidence and two new studies from the Unites States and Canada / France respectively have good news for women (so its quite likely that all of this has good implications for men too!). The review looked at nutrients from food, and the conclusions support the cancer protective role of antioxidants, whilst the US study results support the role of vitamin and mineral supplements in maintaining the health of DNA (telomere length within DNA may be a marker for biological ageing). Antioxidant vitamins and minerals are known to play various crucial roles in modulating oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, and this is appears to be a key factor in the rate at which cells age. The Canadian / French study suggests that antioxidant vitamin supplements play a role in maintaining bone strength.
Elisa Bandera and a team of researchers from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in the US, have reviewed one recently completed ‘cohort’ study (tracking the same people over time) and 12 recent ‘case-control’ studies (comparing subjects with controls, to find cause and effect relationships) to investigate the association between antioxidant vitamins C, E and beta-carotene intake from food sources, and endometrial (womb) cancer. The results found that as dietary antioxidant intake increased, endometrial cancer risk decreased. The authors highlighted the need for additional studies, in particular those over time.
Meanwhile, a recent US study “provides the first epidemiologic evidence that multivitamin use is associated with longer telomere length among women”. In this study, led by Qun Xu, Ph.D. of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, multivitamin use and nutrient intakes were assessed in a cross-sectional analysis of data from 586 participants in the ‘Sister Study’. The researchers found that multivitamin use was associated with longer (5.1%) telomeres (may suggest a younger ‘biological age’ as compared with shorter telomeres). This was also the case for higher intakes of vitamins C and E from foods, even after adjustment for multivitamin use. In addition, intakes of vitamins C and E were associated with telomere length among those who did not take multivitamins.
According to findings published in Osteoporosis International, following a study carried out by Canadian and French researchers, women receiving a combination of vitamins C and E supplements maintained bone mineral density during a six-month period comparable to that provided by regular exercise, while women receiving placebo did experience detrimental bone loss. Chuin and his team concluded that “Antioxidant vitamins may offer some protection against bone loss in the same extent as resistance exercise although combining both does not seem to produce additional effects. Our results suggest to further investigate the impact of antioxidant supplements on the prevention of osteoporosis.”
Nutrient restrictions: less about safety, more about profits?
Once again, through the publication of studies, we are shown yet more evidence of the health benefits of vitamins and minerals.
Whether obtained from food, or from supplements, antioxidant nutrients seem to be good news for our health, and why shouldn’t they be considering that humans evolved over millions of years along with an abundance of various forms in our natural environment? Yet there appears to be so much denial, dismissal, suppression, and bias against such positive study outcomes by the mainstream.
Why are antioxidants and other essential nutrients, in food supplement form, being targeted and restricted by regulators? (see EU Food Supplements Directive/ Maximum Permitted Levels). Why are we being told there are safety issues in consuming more beta carotene daily than that contained in one carrot, or more selenium daily than that contained in more than one third of a brazil nut, while such foods may be eaten in unrestricted quantities?
Meanwhile, the toxic sweetener aspartame has recently been deemed safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for inclusion in foods which we may also consume in unrestricted quantities, and the toothpaste toxin sodium monofluorophosphate was approved by EFSA last year, for use in food supplements!
It looks very much as though it is less about the safety of these nutrients, and more about the profits of big food and pharma corporations. Surely we should be able to trust that food safety authorities such as EFSA and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are unbiased and independent? One would most sincerely hope so, wouldn’t one?
The Current State of Play: What happens in the EU on January 1st 2010?
Up until December 31st 2009 a number of vitamin and mineral forms have been enjoying continued sale in European Union member states on a derogation list, under the transition measures of the Food Supplements Directive (FSD). However, at any time during this period EFSA are able to withdraw them from sale (i.e. EFSA may give an unfavourable opinion on the basis of a ‘scientific safety dossier’). This ‘stay of execution’ for those vitamins and minerals still not on the ‘positive list’ is effectively coming to an end, which means that, from January 1st 2010, those nutrients will be banned in all EU member states.
However, as a result of the ANH legal challenge, and the subsequent European Court of Justice’s ruling in April 2005, natural sources of vitamins and minerals (ones that are normally found in or consumed as part of the diet) are considered by the European Commisssion to be outside the scope of this directive, and will be regarded as foods.
EU restrictions also threaten in the form of ‘Maximum Permitted Levels’ (MPLs) of vitamin and minerals, yet to be set, and currently the focus of ANH and Irish petitions. Since these two petitions have been deemed admissible by the European Parliamentary Petitions Committee, they have been referred to the European Commission and we expect to hear news about this later in the year.
This is all very important for those outside the EU, too, since it looks ever more likely that the EU regulatory model may form the template for regulatory systems worldwide, as well as being incorporated into global guidelines such as those currently in development by Codex.