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A new vitamin study has raised a warning flag for people who pop supplements on a regular basis.

French researchers found that women who took antioxidant vitamins and minerals were at an elevated risk of developing skin cancer.

For their study, the researchers recruited 13,000 women and men, aged 35 to 60. Half the volunteers took a daily capsule that contained 120 milligrams of vitamin C, 30 mg of vitamin E, 6 mg of beta-carotene, 100 mg of selenium and 20 mg of zinc. The other half took a placebo each day.

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After almost eight years of follow-up, 51 women in the antioxidant group had developed various types of skin cancer, compared with 30 women in the placebo group. The same results were not found in the men taking part in the trial.

This is, of course, just one study and a lot more research is needed to confirm the findings published in The Journal of Nutrition. But the lead researcher, Serge Hercberg at the Human Nutrition Research Centre in Paris, said the preliminary work should serve as a caution to frequent supplement users.

He thinks people can get all the antioxidants they need by eating a balanced diet. Supplementation might be useless, and in some cases, even deleterious, he said.

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