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Study: Antioxidants could increase skin cancer risk in women

Researchers in France have evidence that proves there are risks to taking antioxidants. The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, indicates that vitamins E and C taken to help repair skin cells may actually increase the risk of skin cancer in women. Antioxidants such as vitamin E, selenium, and zinc help repair damage to cells, so many doctors believed that taking antioxidant supplements could reduce the risk for heart disease and cancer. A new study from France finds that the supplements may actually increase the odds of skin cancer in women. Doctors randomly assigned 13,000 people to take either an antioxidant supplement containing vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, selenium and zinc, or a placebo pill each day for more than seven years. The results showed that women taking the supplement had a 68 percent greater chance of skin cancer compared to women taking the placebo. The odds of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, were four times greater for women who used the vitamins. Antioxidants did not appear to alter skin cancer risk for men. Researchers theorize that hormones change the way that the nutrients are processed in the body, which would explain why women respond differently to the antioxidants. In some places, antioxidants are still marketed as offering cancer protection from the sun, but doctors say this study means people should not rely on supplements to reduce their risk of skin cancer.

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