Vitamin E Nor C Supplements Offer Cancer Protection
for Older Men; Nor Heart Protection
Eating a diet rich in vitamins E and C was found
to lower risk of cancer in earlier studies
Nov. 17, 2008 It has not been a good month for
vitamins E and C. A study released yesterday found no protective effect
from vitamin E on prostate cancer or vitamin C supplementation on total
cancer. This follows a study released earlier in the month that says
neither vitamin E nor vitamin C
supplements reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events in a study
of older men.
March 3, 2006 Vitamin E good or bad has been
a hot topic in medicine for the last couple of years. New research at
Ohio State University, looking at how two forms of vitamin E act inside
animal cells, has concluded this powerful antioxidant, popular with
senior citizens, is "truly a
The Physicians' Health Study II is a large-scale,
long-term, randomized clinical trial that included 14,641 physicians who
were at least 50 years old at enrollment. These physicians were given
400 IU of vitamin E every other day or its placebo, or 500 mg of vitamin
C daily or its placebo.
It was from this same study that the earlier report
on the failure of these supplements to protect against cardiovascular
disease was taken.
Researchers followed these patients for up to 10
years for the development of cancer with high rates of completion of
annual questionnaires, and the confirmation of reported cancer
Analyses indicate that randomization to vitamin E
did not have a significant effect on prostate cancer. This lack of
effect for vitamin E also extended to total cancer. Vitamin C had a
similar lack of effect on total cancer.
"After nearly 10 years of supplementation with
either vitamin E or vitamin C, we found no evidence supporting the use
of either supplement in the prevention of cancer," said Howard D. Sesso,
Sc.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's
"While vitamin E and C supplement use did not
produce any protective benefits, they also did not cause any harm," he
Previous laboratory research and observational
studies in which people who reported eating a diet rich in vitamins E
and C were found to have a lower risk of cancer, had suggested that
taking these vitamins as individual supplements may offer some
Study co-author and principal investigator J.
Michael Gaziano, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine at
Brigham and Women's Hospital and VA Boston, adds, "Individual vitamin
supplements such as vitamin E and C do not appear to provide the same
potential advantages as vitamins included as part of a healthy, balanced
Finally, Sesso said that these results provide
clinically meaningful new information. "Our results represent one of
only a few clinical trials that have tested this idea. The final
component of the Physicians' Health Study II, testing daily multivitamin
supplementation, remains ongoing."
The mission of the American Association for Cancer
Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the
world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to
advancing cancer research.
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