Vitamin E – I feel slightly vindicated

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You all know I have been frustrated and calmly irate (if that’s possible) regarding the poor and expensive (lack of) science with synthetic vitamin E and prostate cancer. To extract one isoform of vitamin E and isolate it to a supplement as in dl-alpha tocopherol make this dietary supplement unnatural and possibly harmful at high dosages.

This is the case with one study indicating that 50 units of dl-alpha tocopherol reduces the risk of prostate cancer by up to 32% another suggest that 400 units increases the risk by 17%. Not only does the wrong kind of vitamin E can promote prostate cancer but the unnatural form (excluding gamma-tocopherol) seems to cause more harm than good.  Read more on this here.

A recent research article from the Cancer Prevention Research journal makes the point that the natural form of vitamin E may be more protective. Halelujah.

I quote from Dr. Yang:

“Our message is that the vitamin E form of gamma-tocopherols, the most abundant form of vitamin E in the American diet, and delta-tocopherols, also found in vegetable oils, are beneficial in preventing cancers while the form of vitamin E, alpha- tocopherol, the most commonly used in vitamin E supplements, has no such benefit.”

“When animals are exposed to cancer-causing substances, the group that was fed these tocopherols in their diet had fewer and smaller tumors,” Yang says. “When cancer cells were injected into mice these tocopherols also slowed down the development of tumors.”

“For people who think that they need to take vitamin E supplements,” Yang says, “taking a mixture of vitamin E that resembles what is in our diet would be the most prudent supplement to take.”

– Lead researcher Chung S. Yang, Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey

For more information about this READ HERE

My take on Vitamin E

Dietary supplements should be used judiciously and with proper guidance by an expert – most notably naturopathic doctors. While the wrong kind of supplement can be harmful to the right type (smart supplementation) can be immensely protective against cancer and heart disease.  It is true that the study reported was done on mice.

The reason we study mice in research is that they are physiologically similar to humans. Furthermore, a grand study with the natural form of vitamin E will likely never happen because of the results of the erroneous designed SELECT trial and the expense to conduct such clinical trial.

Dr. Chang reports that dl-alpha-tocopherol is the most common type of vitamin E found in dietary supplements.

Although I do not think this synthetic and potentially harmful form of vitamin E is abundantly available among quality supplement manufacturers, to my surprise it is available over-the-counter in pharmacies as written here.

The Takeaway

Find a naturopathic physician and consult with a professional on the proper use of dietary supplements.

The natural form of vitamin E can be protected especially if it has healthy amounts of gamma tocopherol.

There is no evidence that the natural form of vitamin E promotes or increases the risk of prostate cancer.

The opposite might be true where high gamma-tocopherol combined with alpha-tocopherol vitamin E may be protective against prostate cancer, however.

 

Reference:

Yang CS, Suh N, Kong AN.Does Vitamin E Prevent or Promote Cancer? Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 Apr 16

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by Dr. Geo

2 comments… add one
  • Alex Hekimian 07/12/2012, 10:42 AM

    Speaking of experiments with mice, is it true that red maca supplements produced beneficial results for prostate health? Do you recommend red maca for men? If so, at what dosages?

    Reply
    • Dr. Geo 08/24/2012, 3:21 PM

      Hi Alex,

      Studies performed with red maca has been done in rats – not humans as best as I know. The dosage typically used in humans with maca is 1000mg to 3000mg a day.

      Thank you
      GE

      Reply

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