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Back To Vidyya Vitamin E Intake Decreases Cancers, Heart Disease

News From The NIH's Clinical Nutrition Center

The National Institutes of Health, commenting on "current issues and controversies about Vitamin E," says that preliminary research has led to a widely-held belief that Vitamin E can help prevent or delay coronary heart disease, and that a higher intake of Vitamin E has been associated with a decreased incidence of both prostate cancer and breast cancer.

On Vitamin E and heart disease, NIH's Clinical Nutrition Center in its Office of Dietary Supplements says:

  • "Researchers are fairly certain that oxidative modification of LDL cholesterol (sometimes called 'bad' cholesterol) promotes blockages in coronary arteries that may lead to atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

  • "Vitamin E may help prevent or delay coronary heart disease by limiting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Vitamin E also may help prevent the formation of blood clots, which could lead to a heart attack," the report said, and added:

  • "Observational studies have associated lower rates of heart disease with higher Vitamin E intake. A study of approximately 90,000 nurses suggested that the incidence of heart disease was 30 percent to 40 percent lower among nurses with the higher intake of Vitamin E from diet and supplements," the NIH paper said.

In the nurses' study, the range of Vitamin E intake from both diet and supplements had a high of 1,000 International Units (IU), or the equivalent of 1,500 milligrams. Median intake was 208 IU.

The NIH paper noted, however, that "randomized clinical trials raise questions about the role of Vitamin E supplements in heart disease," but that studies are continuing to determine whether a longer duration of intervention with Vitamin E supplements can provide protection against cardiovascular disease.

On Vitamin E and cancer, the NIH report said:

  • "Antioxidants such as Vitamin E help protect against the damaging effects of free radicals, which may contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer.

  • " ... Some evidence associated higher intake of Vitamin E with a decreased incidence of prostate cancer and breast cancer. There is evidence that Vitamin E may reduce the size of cysts in women with fibrocystic breast disease, which is a risk factor for breast cancer."

On Vitamin E and cataracts, the report said:

  • "Observational studies have found that lens clarity, which is used to diagnose cataracts, was better in regular users of Vitamin E supplements and in persons with higher blood levels of Vitamin E."

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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