Intended for healthcare professionals


Vitamin supplements do not cut risk of gastrointestinal cancer

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 07 October 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:817

Facts are stranger than fictions.

Dear Sir,

About the article by Susan Mayor, I would like to point out the
predictions and outcome of lung cancer prevention study published in mid
1980s and 90s. Though the levels of serum beta-carotene were lower in
patients who developed lung cancer (1) when this vitamin was supplemented
to these patients what was noted was a surprising increase in the event of
lung cancer in these patients. (2) The conclusion that can be drawn from
this is that facts are stranger than fictions and it is always better to
count the chickens after the eggs have hatched.


1. Menkes MS, Comstock GW, Vuilleumier JP, Helsing KJ, Rider AA,
Brookmeyer R. Serum beta-carotene, vitamins A and E, selenium, and the
risk of lung cancer. N Engl J Med 1986;315:1250-1254

2. Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group The Alpha-Tocopherol.
The Effect of Vitamin E and Beta Carotene on the Incidence of Lung Cancer
and Other Cancers in Male Smokers. N Engl J Med 1994;330:1029-1035

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 October 2004
Nasir Shariff
Senior House Officer, Medicine
Zakir Shariff, Mohammed F. Khan
Victoria Hospital, Blackpool, FY3 8NR