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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Vitamins and Cancer: Where is the Malignancy?

By Michael McBurney

Vitamins are essential nutrients. Nutrition plays an important role in maintaining health and prevent chronic diseases. Consumers deserve more integrity from commercial news sources then they are getting today.

Based on a “study which will be presented at the annual meeting of the oncology society, which begins May 29 in Chicago”, Andrew Pollack of the New York Times is reporting “B Vitamin is Found to Help People Prone to Some Types of Skin Cancer”. The New York Times is not alone.  MSN’s headline is  “Vitamin Supplement Linked to Reduction in Skin Cancer Risk”. RTTNews is reporting “Study: Cheap Vitamin Reduces Skin Cancer”. Based on an Associated Press report, SFGate headlines  “Vitamin B3 may help prevent certain skin cancers, study shows”.

Today, these news sources are NOT reporting the daily intake of vitamins (nicotinamide) used to elicit a 23% decrease in new skin cancer incidence. Apparently, 368 patients at high-risk of skin cancer were treated with nicotinamide or placebo (2 pills per day) for one year. Just as reported in India, these leading news sources fail to provide context or inform consumers of the totality of the science on vitamin intake and cancer.

Less than a month ago, I wrote about journalism failure in reporting a presentation from the American Association for Cancer Research. Kevin Lomangino wrote a great blog with an apt title: “The study that never existed: cancer edition.” At least the media coverage was in response to a university press release reported on a presentation ALREADY GIVEN at a scientific meeting.

In today’s case, the news cycle is being driven by ANTICIPATION of a study to be presented on May 29! Hopefully, Gary Schwitzer of will update his excellent piece “News releases can lead media like sheep – hiding key problems”.

Commercial media is failing to meet their professional standards. A consistent lack of context and efforts to apply journalism standards when reporting on nutrition contributes to consumer confusion.

Without doubt, vitamins help maintain cellular function and structure. For credible information on vitamins, see the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center.

Main Citation

There isn’t one. I anticipate the data will be made available on May 29.


Mekam Maheshwar, SubbaRao M Gavaravarapu, Venkaiah M, Raghunatha Rao D. The quality of nutrition research reporting by leading daily newspapers in India. J Media Commun Studies doi: 10.5897/JMCS2013.0382

Wellman NS, Borra ST, Scheleman JC, Matthews JA, Amundson D, Tuttle M. Trends in News Media Reporting of Food and Health Issues: 1995-2005. 2011 Nutr Today doi: 10.1097/NT.0b013e31821a9da4