A lack of vitamins and minerals in people's diet could contribute to an increased risk of cancer, according to Bruce Ames of the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California. He suggests vitamin supplements might be a cheap and effective way to prevent diseases among most vulnerable groups.
At the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting Ames put forward the idea that calorie-rich junk food that is low in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) forced the body to enter a "survival mode" that evolved to keep us alive in the short-term at the expense of fixing potential long-term dangers such as damage to DNA and cells. This would then lead to increased risk of developing cancer and a compromised immune system.
In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006, Ames, who is on the scientific advisory board for the nutrients company Juvenon, reviewed the damage caused by different micronutrient deficiencies.