Cut Cancer Risk: Vitamin E protects against prostate cancer

Two forms of vitamin E – alpha- and gamma-tocopherol – appear to lower the risk of prostate cancer by as much as 53% and 39%, respectively, based on the findings of a team of scientists.

The researchers drew their subjects from the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study cohort of 29,133 Finnish men, aged between 50 and 69 years. From that group were selected 100 men with prostate cancer and 200 without, to determine whether there exists an association between higher levels of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol circulating in the blood stream and lower risks of prostate cancer. The study considered the benefits of both vitamin E supplements and vitamin E in the diet. In keeping with earlier findings, the men who received a vitamin E supplement as part of the ATBC trial, and who had the highest vitamin E levels to start with, displayed the lowest risk of prostate cancer.

Lead researcher Stephanie J. Weinstein, PhD, further noted that one principal dietary difference between Finns and Americans is the type of cooking oils used. “The Finns generally eat more canola oil,” she said, “while Americans favour corn or soybean oils. Canola oil is richer in alpha-tocopherol and offers the added benefit of being lower in saturated fat.”

To achieve optimum serum levels of alpha- and gamma-tocopherols, Weinstein recommends eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and fewer fats and sugars. For those who wish to supplement their diets, vitamin E “complexes,” which include multiple forms of vitamin E, are now available.

American Association of Cancer Research, Mar 29, 2004