Nutrition & CancerWellness Corner

Dietary Supplements: Too Much of a Good Thing?

More than 60% of all American adults take dietary supplements in an effort to improve their health. However, recent research shows that taking excess amounts of vitamin supplements may increase the risk for cancer in some people.
Web Exclusives – April 14, 2015
Tracy Wright

In a new study from the University of Colorado Cancer Center, researchers analyzed 20 years of published studies about the effects of supplements on cancer risk. The findings suggest that too much of a good thing may be bad for you.

One study (published in 2006 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) showed that women who took high doses of folic acid supplements had a 19% greater risk for breast cancer than women who didn’t take the supplements.

In another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2011 and included more than 35,000 men, those who took high-dose vitamin E supplements had a 17% increased risk for cancer.

A 1994 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that male smokers who took beta-carotene supplements had an 18% higher risk for lung cancer compared with male smokers who didn’t take the supplements.

Experts recommend eating a balanced diet of healthy foods as the best way to get the daily recommended doses of vitamins and minerals.

Recommended For You
Nutrition & Cancer
Nutrition to Combat Fatigue
By Julie Lanford, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN
There’s no simple solution to treat fatigue; instead, improving your energy level may require a few different strategies—nutrition is one of them.
SurvivorshipWellness Corner
Notes for Tomorrow
By Tricia Tennesen
Tricia Tennesen, whose father passed away from colon cancer at age 60, describes her mindset in dealing with her stage IIA breast cancer diagnosis as she manages the tricky balance of anxiety, hopes, and dreams.
Patient StoriesWellness Corner
Anchored in Hope
By Traci Fotorny
Traci Fotorny was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at age 47. She kept her smile during her aggressive treatment, and when it ended, she started a Boxes of Hope program to give back to women with breast cancer.
Last modified: March 10, 2022

Subscribe to CONQUER: the journey informed

Receive timely cancer news & updates, patient stories, and more.

Race or Ethnicity
Profession or Role
Primary Interest
Other Interests