Supplements should be taken at intake recommendations

05 March 2014

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5 March 2014 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) today moved to reassure consumers that vitamin and mineral supplements in Australia are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and that they are considered beneficial when dietary intake is inadequate and when taken in accordance with the directions on product labels.

This statement was made in response to a US study which suggested that high doses of selenium and synthetic Vitamin E are associated with an increased risk of rare high-grade prostate cancer. 1

This study had previously been reported2 but the data was reexamined to determine the impact of pre-existing selenium levels. The analysis showed that men who started the trial with high levels of selenium, as assessed by measures of selenium in their toenail clippings, doubled their risk of developing a high-grade prostate cancer by taking selenium supplements and men who had low levels of selenium at the start of the trial doubled their risk of high-grade prostate cancer by taking vitamin E.

ASMI Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director, Steven Scarff said: "Other studies with selenium and Vitamin E supplements do not support these findings. 3,4,5
"There are a number of limitations in the reporting of results, which were clearly noted by the authors of the study. Of primary concern is the manner in which the data was reanalysed, which could have resulted in a number of statistical errors.

"This was a trial in which high doses of dietary supplements were used in an attempt to prevent a particular disease rather than to treat a nutritional deficiency. The typical use of supplements is to fill a nutritional deficit when the dietary intake of nutrients is inadequate. It is very important that supplements be consumed in recommended amounts.

"Dietary vitamin and mineral supplements are important for many people. They do not replace a balanced diet but they are useful for those with vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and they play a vital role in health and wellbeing," he said.
As with any medication, it is important that consumers follow the label instructions and consult with their healthcare practitioner if they have any concerns.
Media contact: Marie Kelly-Davies - ASMI PR Manager
Ph: 02 9923 9410 | M: 0408 256 381 Email:
About ASMI: The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak body representing sponsors of non-prescription medicines - over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines. Its members make up 85 per cent of the $4bn self care
market. Membership totals 60 companies and ASMI members employ approximately 17,000 people with exports estimated at $600 million annually. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy.

1.Kristal, A. et al. Baseline Selenium Status and Effects of Selenium and Vitamin E Supplementation on Prostate Cancer Risk Journal of the National Cancer Institute, February 22, 2014.
2. Klein, EA, Thompson Jr IM, Tangen CM, et al. Vitamin E and the Risk of Prostate Cancer; The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). JAMA. 2011; 306(14):1549-1556.
3. Meyer, F. et al. Antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplementation and prostate cancer prevention in the SU.VI.MAX trial. Int J Cancer 116, 182-186 (2005).
4. Combs, G. F., Clark, L. C. & Turnbull, B. W. Reduction of cancer risk with an oral supplement of selenium. Biomed. Environ. Sci. 10, 227-234 (1997).
5. Braun L and Cohen M. 2010. Herbs & Natural Supplements. An Evidence-Based Guide. 3rd Ed. Churchill Livingstone / Elsevier.