Vitamin E linked to lower mortality

A large new study suggests vitamin E may help prevent death from cancer and heart disease in middle-aged men who smoke, contradicting the findings of some previous studies on the subject.

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By  Healthcare Middle East Published  December 6, 2006

A large new study suggests vitamin E may help prevent death from cancer and heart disease in middle-aged men who smoke, contradicting the findings of some previous studies on the subject. In a study of 29,092 Finnish men in their 50s and 60s who were smokers, those with the highest concentrations of the vitamin E in their blood at the study’s outset were the least likely to die during the follow-up period, which lasted up to 19 years, Dr Margaret E. Wright of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland and colleagues report. There are a number of mechanisms by which vitamin E, also known as alpha-tocopherol, might promote health, Wright and her team note in the November issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, but also boosts immune system function and prevents tumour blood vessel growth.But studies investigating blood levels of vitamin E and mortality, as well as the effects of taking supplements of the vitamin, have had conflicting results. In the current study, Wright and her colleagues compared men’s levels of alpha tocopherol at the beginning of the study, before they had begun taking the supplements, with their mortality over the course of the study’s follow-up period. Men with the highest levels of vitamin E in their blood were 18% less likely to die than those with the lowest levels, the researchers found. They also had a 21% lower risk of death from cancer, a 19% lower risk of dying from heart disease, and a 30% lower risk of death from other causes. The optimum concentration appeared to be 13 to 14 milligrams vitamin E per liter of blood, with higher concentrations offering no additional benefit.

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