An oncologist has claimed that taking multivitamins could raise cancer risk by as much as 30%, despite previous studies finding that they pose no risk.
Dr Mohammad Muneeb Khan, who founded the charity Killing Cancer Kindly, has warned that multivitamin products should receive tobacco-style warnings due to the “dangers” of some supplements.
"Synthetic pills contain obscenely high and wholly unnecessary volumes of micronutrients that far exceed what the average human body requires," he explained.
"These tiny organic compounds are so numerous that our organs struggle to use them, and they’re left, in effect, to float about the body."
He added that the problem with these excess multivitamins is that they are "readily available to feed the hundreds of cancer cells that are made in our body every day".
"Normally, our body has the capability to destroy these cancer cells effectively but this becomes a challenge when they are well fed and able to increase in number quickly," he said.
"Imagine hundreds of ravenous little Pac-Men running around and gobbling everything up and then multiplying in number exponentially over time until they are able to completely overrun our body’s anti-cancer defences such as the immune system."
Dr Khan says the solution is to 'reclassify' multivitamins as a drug and make people aware of their side effects.
"A health warning and prescription would work best alongside the general advice that most people, children and adults alike, do not need additional vitamins in their diet, period," he said.
Dr Khan says his charity has noted a "growing body of compelling research" that suggests a link between synthetic vitamin consumption and increased rates of lung, bowel, prostate, and breast cancer.
"In one flagship study, the CARET trial, the increased risk of developing lung cancer from taking a daily supplement including vitamin B6, B9 and B12 was estimated to be nearly 30%," he said.
"Studies looking at the daily use of supplements including vitamin A and vitamin B complex (including vitamins such as B1, B6 and B12) have, likewise, shown a correlation in increased risk for different types of cancer, though more research is required to confirm by how much."
A recent YouGov poll found that nearly half (47%) of Brits take multivitamins or dietary supplements at least once a week or more.
While Dr Khan’s charity is planning to do more research into the topic next year, previous studies have found that there is no association between multivitamin intake and cancers like colon, gastric or lung. The same study, from 2019, found that multivitamins are actually associated with a reduced risk of colon and bladder cancer, but could lead to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
A further study of more than one million Americans found that there is no association of multivitamin use with early death, cardiovascular disease death or cancer death.
A separate study of 37,920 women reported no association of multivitamin use with breast cancer risk.
Many of the vitamins that we need are found in the foods we eat, which is why Cancer Research UK says that there is evidence that a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can reduce your cancer risk.
Additional reporting by SWNS.
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