Antioxidant Supplementation Increases the Risk of Skin Cancers in Women but Not in Men

J Nutr. 2007 Sep;137(9):2098-105. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.9.2098.

Abstract

This research aimed to test whether supplementation with a combination of antioxidant vitamins and minerals could reduce the risk of skin cancers (SC). It was performed within the framework of the Supplementation in Vitamins and Mineral Antioxidants study, a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, primary prevention trial testing the efficacy of nutritional doses of antioxidants in reducing incidence of cancer and ischemic heart disease in the general population. French adults (7876 women and 5141 men) were randomized to take an oral daily capsule of antioxidants (120 mg vitamin C, 30 mg vitamin E, 6 mg beta-carotene, 100 microg selenium, and 20 mg zinc) or a matching placebo. The median time of follow-up was 7.5 y. A total of 157 cases of all types of SC were reported, from which 25 were melanomas. Because the effect of antioxidants on SC incidence varied according to gender, men and women were analyzed separately. In women, the incidence of SC was higher in the antioxidant group [adjusted hazard ratio (adjusted HR) = 1.68; P = 0.03]. Conversely, in men, incidence did not differ between the 2 treatment groups (adjusted HR = 0.69; P = 0.11). Despite the small number of events, the incidence of melanoma was also higher in the antioxidant group for women (adjusted HR = 4.31; P = 0.02). The incidence of nonmelanoma SC did not differ between the antioxidant and placebo groups (adjusted HR = 1.37; P = 0.22 for women and adjusted HR = 0.72; P = 0.19 for men). Our findings suggest that antioxidant supplementation affects the incidence of SC differentially in men and women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / adverse effects*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control

Substances

  • Antioxidants