While previous reports have shown that supplements like E and C do not prevent breast cancer, this new study conducted by the Ponce School of Medicine in Ponce, Puerto Rico shows some positive results. The study, although small, showed a 30% risk reduction for women who took a multi-vitamin and 40% risk reduction for those who took the multi-vitamin. The study compared vitamin and calcium intake of 268 women with breast cancer and 457 women without cancer. In addition they measured the ability of the women’s DNA to repair itself which is a vital part of your body’s ability to fight cancer and keep it away.
“We’ve known that DNA repair capacity is linked to several other types of cancer,” says study co-author, Dr. Jaime Matta “DNA repair capacity is very, very linked to breast cancer.” Interestingly, when the DNA repair capacity was taken out of the equation, the calcium no longer showed the same results, suggesting that the calcium’s protective effect came from its ability to manipulate DNA repair. According to researchers, however, the vitamins seemed to have a beneficial effect beyond the DNA repair.
As with most new study results, more research is warranted. “The totality of the evidence to date does not support taking vitamins and calcium for breast cancer prevention,” says Marji McCullough, Strategic Director of nutritional epidemiology for the American Cancer Society. “There are other reasons women may wish to take calcium, for example bone health. Taking supplements can be important to overall health with or without the presence of cancer. Of course, it is best to get all nutrients through food sources, but if that isn't possible talk with your doctor about your supplement needs.