Vitamin E Supplements Linked to Cancer

by Nikky Manausa on February 22, 2014

Vitamin E SupplementIf You are Taking a Vitamin E Supplement, Get the Facts Straight!

Vitamin E, a fat soluble vitamin and an antioxidant, is considered good for your heart and thought to also lower your risk for infections and some forms of cancer. Antioxidants help to reduce free radicals. Smoking, pollution, poisons, fried foods, and by-products of normal metabolism all expose us to free radicals. Although I prefer to get my antioxidants from natural foods, I thought I was doing my body good by taking vitamin E. I heard that vitamin E was good for runners because it can help diminish muscle fatigue, soreness, and lessen recovery times after workouts. I also have a fear of cancer (rightfully so, several members of my family have had it), and I bought into vitamin E’s claim to help prevent cancer. 

While trying to figure out why I added this supplement to my daily dose in the first place, I discovered a few recent studies that I found alarming.

Vitamin E Supplements Linked to Lung Cancer

On January 29th, 2014, Reuters published the article, Antioxidants Including Vitamin E Can Promote Lung Cancer: StudyThis publication explains that the following has been found true in relation to antioxidant supplements:

  •  “In essence, ‘antioxidants allow cancer cells to escape cells’
    own defense system’ against tumors, biologist Per Lindahl
    of Sweden’sUniversity of Gothenburg and a co-author of the
    study told reporters. That lets existing tumors, even  those
    too small to be detected, proliferate uncontrollably.”

This publication became news when Science Transitional Medicine released Antioxidants Accelerate Lung Cancer Progression in Mice on January 29th, 2014.

Vitamin E and Selenium Supplements Linked to Prostate Cancer

Also alarming, another study published on February 21st, 2014 (yesterday!) in the Journal of the National Cancer Institutefound that vitamin E supplements can more than double a man’s prostate cancer risk, and that this risk is related to selenium supplement levels. Researchers in this study gathered data during the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). The study began in 2001 and was prompted (and funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute) due to early research indicating that these supplements might protect against prostate cancer. The trial was meant to continue for 12 years, but came to a halt in 2008 after findings revealed that there were no protective benefits for selenium, but instead an increased risk of prostate cancer among men supplementing with vitamin E. Several articles are now circulating the Internet regarding these findings, including publications from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterABC News, and WebMD.

Specifically WebMD’s article, Vitamin E, Selenium Supplements Tied to Cancer Risk states the following findings:

  • “Taking selenium supplements increased the risk of high-grade cancer by 91 percent among men with already high selenium levels.”
  • “Among men with low selenium levels, taking vitamin E increased their total risk of prostate cancer by 63 percent and their risk of aggressive cancer by 111 percent.”

Enough Said!

I will no longer be taking a vitamin E supplement! If you are currently taking this supplement, I urge you to do your research and discuss your findings with your physician.

What Do I Take?

If you would like to know what supplements I do take, please read my post, My Daily Dose – Vitamins for Runners

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