Prostate Cancer Linked To Vitamin E Supplements, Study Says

Prostate cancer expert and Harvard Medical School professor Marc Garnick says that the regular intake of Vitamin E can increase the risk of having prostate cancer.

In an article published by the Harvard Health Publications, Marc Garnick adviced people to avoid any type of dietary supplements that have Vitamin E.

The nutritional element Selenium, which is found in some dietary supplements alongside Vitamin E, can also add to the risk.

This surprising revelation is contrary to studies in the past decades claiming that both Vitamin E and Selenium intake increased a person’s protection against prostate cancer. Recent researches revealed that the two may actually be doing more harm than good.

Dr. Garnick and others cite a massive, longitudinal study on Vitamin E and Selenium intake that revealed this startling conclusion. In 2001, a study called SELECT, or Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial was started to see if the positive results found out in the 80s and 90s coincided with results of a more rigorous research method. The study involved 36,000 healthy and middle aged participants divided into four groups. One group was asked to take 400 IU of Vitamin E and 200 milligrams of Selenium daily, while the other groups were asked to take Vitamin E with a placebo pill, Selenium with a placebo pill, or two placebo pills.

The experiment was double-blind; neither the doctor nor the participant knew whether they were taking in a real pill or a placebo.

The National Institute of Cancer revealed that SELECT was ended in 2008, with the researchers putting a halt on the study because they didn’t see significant effects of Vitamin E and Selenium consumption on the prevention of prostate cancer.

What shocked them was what they found out three years after the official research. Upon revisiting the data, the researchers found that the participants who took Vitamin E during the course of the experiment was 17 percent more at risk of getting prostate cancer than the participants who just took placebo.

To check if Selenium also played a role in the prostate cancer risk, independent researchers from different institutions asked 5000 participants of the SELECT study to submit their toenail clippings for laboratory analysis. Toenail clippings can reveal the amount of selenium in a person’s system.

Combining results from the official SELECT data and the toenail clipping analysis, it was found that VItamin E alone increased the risk of getting prostate cancer in participants who had low selenium levels during the early periods of the study. Selenium, taken alone or with Vitamin E, increased the risk of getting prostate cancer with those who began the study with high selenium levels in their system.

This might be a new reason to get easy on the E. Garnick especially warned about the wide array of multivitamins available on pharmacies that brag high Vitamin E and Selenium content on the box.

According to another Inquisitr report, green tea and pomegranate might even do a better job in keeping prostate cancer at bay than Vitamin E and Selenium.

The American Cancer Society says that prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. They project that in 2014, more than 29,000 American men will die of prostate cancer.

[Image from John Liu via Flickr]