Seven Things Men and Women Need to Know About Vitamin E as a Cancer-Fighter

Scientists have been investigating the power of vitamin E as a cancer-fighting agent since the early 1950's. There was a time in the middle of the 1990's, however, that research almost stopped. In 1994, Finnish scientists, who turned out to be studying a group of Finnish smokers in whom the cancer process had already begun, got preliminary results suggesting that low doses of beta-carotene and vitamin E might even increase the risk of the disease.

For over a year the headlines read that vitamin E was not a supplement to take to prevent cancer, but then it was discovered that the problem in the Finnish Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Study was not vitamin E at all.

It turned out that the culprit in the Finnish study was beta-carotene, and only when beta-carotene was taken without other beneficial carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthein.

Vitamin E Tablets

Vitamin E, however, turned out to have potent cancer-fighting capacity. But the important finding of recent scientific research is that the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E is not enough to fight every kind of cancer. Gamma-tocopherol and tocotrienols, which are only available in their natural form, are also need for full cancer protection.

Here is a summary of the ten most important findings of recent research of vitamin E and cancer:

For preventing and fighting cancer, you need more vitamin E than you can get from a multivitamin, but you don't need a megadose. Most experts, such as Dr. Kline, suggest a combination of 200 IU of alpha-tocopheryl succinate and 200 mg of natural tocotrienols, usually four capsules a day.

Selected References:

London S.J., et al. Carotenoids, retinol, and vitamin E and risk of proliferative benign breast disease and breast cancer. Cancer Causes & Control 3 (1992) 503-512.

Schwenke D.C. Does lack of tocopherols and tocotriemols put women at increased risk of breast cancer? Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 13 (2002) 2-20.

Wu D, et al. In vitro supplementation with different tocopherol homologues can affect the function of immune cells in old mice. Free Radic Biol Med 2000 Feb 15;28(4):643-51.