Vitamin E Supplements May Increase Risk of Prostate Cancer

A study published a few months ago in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded: “Dietary supplementation with vitamin E significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men.”

Dr. Eric Klein at the Cleveland Clinic began a study to see if vitamin E and selenium could reduce the risk of prostate cancer by up to 25 percent. The study involved 34,887 men, age 50 or older, randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: 8,752 received selenium (a trace mineral found primarily in plants, as well as some meat and seafood); 8,737 received vitamin E (an antioxidant, found in vegetable oils and nuts); 8,702 received both selenium and vitamin E; and 8,696 received a placebo. At the end of the study, the group that had taken only vitamin E showed a 17 percent increase in prostate cancer, compared to the group receiving a placebo, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is the most common non-skin cancer in America.

The JAMA study was a follow-up to the 2009 Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). This was publicly funded through the National Cancer Institute, and in part by the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. SELECT was a gold-standard randomized, clinical trial, whose purpose was to evaluate whether vitamin E, selenium, or a combination of the two, would reduce the risk of prostate cancer. This trial was intended to follow participants for a minimum of seven years, and a maximum of twelve years.

The researchers found that men who took 400 international units (I.U.) of vitamin E daily had more prostate cancers than men who took a placebo. For every 1,000 men, there were 76 prostate cancers over a 7-year period among those who took vitamin E supplements vs. 65 in those taking placebo—11 more cases of prostate cancer per 1,000 men. This represents a 17 percent increase in prostate cancers, a difference not likely due to chance.

Unfortunately, a scientifically valid benefit for vitamin E supplementation for any disorder, it seems, including prostate cancer, is nonexistent. There is one exception—that is the rare case of a vitamin E deficiency, which has not been known to occur solely from an inadequate diet.  It seems ironic that at one time it was thought that vitamin E would prevent prostate cancer, and now, quite the contrary is evident. These wonderful vitamin supplements increase the risk of prostate cancer!

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