of the Month
of you who haven't seen this major study, here it is. I will be
interested in seeing a study involving non-smokers. Until next month,
Best of Health,
E reduces prostate cancer risk, deaths
-- Daily doses of Vitamin E reduced prostate cancer risk by a third
and the disease's death rate by 41 percent in a study of thousands
for the first time really gives us that ray of hope that with something
simple like a vitamin supplement, in this case a vitamin E supplement
at a relatively modest dosage, that we can actually intervene, can
actually hope to prevent prostate cancer," said study co-author
Dr. Demetrius Albanes.
The study, which
was conducted in Finland, also found that a form of vitamin A had
no effect on reducing cancer. A report on the findings will be published
Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
E and beta carotene, the form of vitamin A used, are antioxidants
-- compounds which may prevent cancer-causing agents from damaging
vitamin E appears to give a statistically significant protection
against cancer, said Albanes, a National Cancer Institute researcher
who participated in the study with researchers from the University
In fact, the
data suggest that beta carotene users in the study were about 16
percent more likely to develop lung cancer. That result startled
many researchers when it was first reported three years ago because
beta carotene was expected to be proved as a cancer preventive.
common form of cancer
is the second most common form of cancer in men behind skin cancer.
It affects almost 80 percent of men over age 65, although many of
them carry the disease undetected. Those undetected, or latent,
cancers are sometimes discovered incidentally or at autopsy. But
latent tumors can become more serious, and that is where vitamin
E proved to be a factor.
the progression from those small latent, subclinical tumors to a
full-blown, clinically detected and problematic prostate cancer,"
The exact mechanism
by which vitamin E reduces prostate cancer is not clear. There are
a number of possibilities. Vitamin E affects all cell membranes
and may inhibit the reproduction of cells. It may stimulate the
immune system or alter sex hormones. It also plays a role in cell
death and the maturation of cells, and it protects the pathways
that rid the body of toxins.
by Dr. Ishwarlal Jialal, of the University of Texas, Southwestern
Medical Center, has shown that vitamin E helps reduce heart disease
and has other health benefits. He called the finding about prostate
cancer "a very significant observation" and said "it
needs to be confirmed by another group study, especially among nonsmokers."
30,000 Finnish men took part in study
study involved 29,133 male smokers between age 50 and 69 who were
selected to take part in a lung cancer study evaluating the effects
of beta carotene and vitamin E on smokers. The men were divided
into four groups: One group took beta carotene supplements; another
took vitamin E; a third took a combination of the two; and the last
group took a placebo. The vitamin E dosage was 50 milligrams a day
-- about five times the recommended minimum daily intake for men
and 2 1/2 times what most people get from food, Albanes said.
After five to
eight years of taking the supplements, the 14,564 men taking vitamin
E alone or with beta carotene had 32 percent fewer cases of prostate
cancer than the 14,569 not taking vitamin E.
there were 41 percent fewer prostate cancer deaths among men taking
the vitamin E supplement was not risk-free, Albanes said. Among
those taking the vitamin, there were 66 deaths from a cerebral hemorrhage,
or bleeding, type of stroke, compared with 44 such deaths among
the men not taking vitamin E.
E is known to have some effect on blood clotting," Albanes
finding about vitamin E is encouraging, it is premature to recommend
that everyone start taking vitamin E supplements, Albanes said,
adding that there needs to be another long-term study involving
nonsmokers and people of different races and ethic backgrounds.
Men who have
had vasectomies, farmers, workers in the rubber industry, men exposed
to the metal cadmium and smokers all may have an increased risk
of developing prostate cancer, although the reason why is not clear.
Dr. Steve Salvatore and The Associated Press contributed to this
article is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice
and is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health-care
professionals. Consult your physician before beginning or making
changes in your diet, supplements or exercise program, for diagnosis
and treatment of illness and injuries, and for advice regarding
medications. Thanks. RM