Vitamin fights prostate cancer
Source: BBC NEWS - Monday, 12 April, 2004
Peppers contain vitamin E
Vitamin E can protect men from prostate cancer, according to researchers.
Men with high levels of the alpha tocopherol form of vitamin E were 53 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer.
The researchers stressed it was better to take vitamin E from fresh food than supplements.
The US National Cancer Institute study was presented at the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting in Orlando.
Scientists looked at 100 men who had prostate cancer and 200 who did not and compared amounts of vitamin E in the bloodstream before and after taking a supplement.
"The men who had the higher serum levels of vitamin E had a lower chance of getting prostate cancer - Stephanie Weinstein
Stephanie Weinstein at the institute said: "We found that the men who had the higher serum levels of vitamin E had a lower chance of getting prostate cancer."
The researchers then looked at the two main forms of vitamin E - alpha tocopherol and gamma tocopherol.
Men with the highest natural levels of alpha tocopherol were 53 percent less likely to later develop prostate cancer. Men with the highest levels of gamma tocopherol, which only represents about 20 percent of the vitamin E in blood, had a 39 percent lower chance.
The best absorbed form of alpha tocopherol is found in foods such as sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds and sweet peppers, not supplements.
Another study at the University of Texas investigated the effect on bladder cancer.
Researchers asked 1,000 patients what they ate and estimated the amount of the two types of vitamin E obtained from their diets and from supplements.
They concluded those with the highest intake of alpha tocopherol from food had a 42 per cent reduced risk of bladder cancer, and those who had a vitamin E-rich diet and also took supplements had a 44 per cent lower risk.
But when broken down into types, they found gamma tocopherol offered no protection against bladder cancer.
Dr Tim Key, of Cancer Research UK, said: "One clinical trial, and several observational studies, have suggested that relatively high intakes, or blood levels, of vitamin E may reduce the risk for prostate cancer.
"However, other studies have not observed this association, and it is too soon to be sure whether there is a real protective effect.
"Foods naturally rich in vitamin E such as nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and vegetables can be recommended as part of a healthy diet, but the evidence does not support the use of vitamin E supplements for the purpose of reducing prostate cancer risk."