Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recently reported that whole foods, not dietary supplements, play a role in lowering cancer risk. Citing a huge and comprehensive AICR report on cancer prevention, the panel of experts cautioned against relying on pills and powders as a means of protection.

“When the panel examined the accumulated evidence from almost 50 different supplement trials, cohort studies and case-control studies, the results were simply too inconsistent to justify using supplements to protect against cancer,” said AICR Nutrition Advisor Karen Collins, MS, RD.

The panel also reported that under certain conditions, some high-dose supplements seemed protective at specific doses, some did nothing, and some actually increased the risk of cancer.

“Let’s be clear: although some people have misread the recommendation as simply, ‘Don’t take supplements ever,’ that’s not what the expert panel concluded,” said Collins. “The panel members were careful to make an important distinction, namely: Don’t rely on supplements to protect you from cancer.”

Different Grades for Different Cancer Links

Of all the supplements reviewed by the panel, only two seemed to have a potential role in protection, and even then the research was less than clear.

*According to the panel, selenium probably protects against prostate cancer, while calcium probably protects against colorectal cancer. Yet they also concluded that high calcium consumption probably increases risk for prostate cancer.*

Whole Foods vs. Supplements

The data on prevention are considerably more consistent, however, when it comes to foods that contain many of the same vitamins, minerals and other substances that are often sold in supple