When it comes to preventing cancer, are nutritional supplements effective? Some say yes, some say no. There is, however, a superior way to prevent cancer nutritionally–by eating healthy foods. You don’t say? Yes, nothing beats whole natural foods when it comes to dietary health.
Recent studies have shown that neither vitamins C nor E did the trick in preventing cancer or heart disease when taken as supplements. However, we know how important these vitamins are for proper function. So what’s the deal? Well, as I point out in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, there is no substitute for real food. C’mon folks, we haven’t found the magic pill yet that can replace food in providing either energy or nutrients (necessary as co-factors in metabolic processes).
Saying that, though, I am not yet convinced that nutritional supplements are useless. In the big Women’s Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study II, which provided the most damning case against supplements, one must admit the doses for vitamin C, at least, were very low (500 mg). I personally take 2000 mg per day. I will contend that 500 mg, while not useless, is probably too low to show such dramatic effects as preventing cancer or heart disease.
Remove vitamin C from the diet, though, and watch your health deteriorate. Hmm, so what then? Vitamin C is necessary but only valuable when coming from real food? I don’t think so. We must remember that supplements are just that–supplementing the diet. Like exercise alone not guaranteeing good health, when combined with diet, rest, chiropractic care, sufficient water intake, and so on, you better believe it will increase your chances of experiencing optimal health.
So preventing cancer, I am certain, requires more than just supplementing. True, studying each individual vitamin and minerals’ individual effects on the body is valuable. But I think before we throw the baby out with the bath water, we might need to design more rigorous studies to learn the whole truth.
I am a firm believer in the healing and preventative power whole natural foods. But I know that we need vital nutrients. It can’t be possible that supplementing with compounds containing the same molecules as natural foods is folly. Unless there are synergistic reactions that occur with other, as of yet, undiscovered agents…well, it just doesn’t make sense. We know certain things about antioxidants in general, and the vitamins that fill that role specifically, so I’m thinking better studies are needed.
But forget not the principle–without healthy, whole natural foods as a staple in your diet, you won’t be preventing cancer or general malnutrition by simply swallowing a pill.