According to a new study, women who are used to have multivitamin tablets in addition to calcium supplements would have reduced risk of suffering breast cancer. The study is going to be highlighted at the American Association for Cancer Research annual conference in Washington, D.C. The authors of the study did not name a certain specific type of vitamins to be beneficial. Yet, they said that the mutual interactions between different vitamins may be the cause of the beneficial effect.
Study co-author, Dr. Jaime Matta, a professor of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology at Ponce School of Medicine in Ponce, Puerto Rico, said "The effect was seen with multivitamins, not with single vitamins," he added "It's possible that the vitamins work better together than individually." While Dr. Manuel Bayona, a professor in the public health program at the Ponce School of Medicine, said "We found that taking multivitamins and calcium supplements were strongly protective against breast cancer," he added "Which vitamins exactly? We don't know because they were multivitamins."
However, the study disagreed with previous reports that several single vitamins, such as E and C, have no role against breast cancer prevention, while other studies suggested certain protective effect for several individual vitamins. Unfortunately, the new study did not offer a lot for revealing these conflicts, one expert said. "The results are interesting but it's a small study," said Joanne Dorgan, an epidemiologist with Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, he added "At this point in time, most of the big studies don't support an association."
During this study, the authors made comparisons between vitamin and calcium intakes of 268 women, suffering from breast cancer, and other 457 women without breast cancer, all of the women were living in Puerto Rico. Moreover, the study team checked the ability of DNA in women to repair itself, which is playing an important role in fighting cancer. Dr. Matta said "We've known that DNA repair capacity is linked to several other types of cancer," he added "DNA repair capacity is very, very linked to breast cancer risk."
The study reported that women at older ages had reduced DNA repair capacity levels, in addition of women with family history of breast cancer and had not carried out breast feeding, were all having higher risks for breast cancer. Moreover, the study reported that having a multivitamin tablet decreased the risk of cancer by nearly 30%, while using calcium supplements decreased the risk by 40%.
However, when taking out the DNA repair capacity out of the equation, calcium was reported to be not having any protective role, which suggests that the protective effect of calcium is carried out by its effect on DNA repair. On the other hand, vitamins were reported to have their beneficial effects regardless of the DNA repair process. The study authors are now seeking a way to apply the DNA repair capacity functions as a breast cancer risk marker, to have the same action of cholesterol when used as a heart disease marker. Dr. Matta said "We're developing new technology that would make measuring DNA repair capacity more inexpensive, faster and easier to do,"
Marji McCullough, strategic director of nutritional epidemiology for the American Cancer Society, commented on the study saying that "The totality of the evidence to date does not support taking vitamins and calcium for breast cancer prevention," he added "There are other reasons women may wish to take calcium, for example for bone health."