Do Multivitamins Interfere with Cancer Treatments?

First Posted: Jan 15, 2013 10:12 AM EST

You may want to think twice before taking that multivitamin in the morning-at least according to James Watson, the Nobel Prize winning scientist who helped discover the "double helix" structure of DNA. In his view, taking a multivitamin could interfere with traditional cancer treatments. Since nutritional supplements contain antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, they could keep chemotherapy and radiotherapy from working. How? In a new paper, Watson claims that late stage cancers often become untreatable because they start producing the very same antioxidants found in multivitamins.

In healthy individuals, antioxidants are a good thing. They attack molecules known as "free radicals" which can damage DNA. Some cancer treatments, though, use these very same free radicals to kill tumor cells.

Of course, there are some who disagree with Watson's theory. It hasn't yet been tested, and vitamins can help supplement diets that are deficient in necessary nutrients.

The benefits (and detriments) of taking vitamins have been debated for years. However, it is generally agreed that there can indeed be too much of a good thing when taking supplements- after all, it is important to take things in moderation. For those that are healthy and take a multivitamin as part of a regimen, though, there is little cause to worry. 

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