Debating the effects of vitamin E on cancer risk

In a recent study of more than 77,000 adults, there was no evidence that vitamin E could protect from getting cancer. The details were summarized here.

But the food industry takes a different view.

An article on the Functional Ingredients website reminds us that in that study, “Over the course of a decade there was a 5% increased risk of developing lung cancer for every 100 mg of vitamin E supplement taken daily.”

Based on this, Dr. Christopher Slatore from the University of Washington in Seattle concluded, “Our results should prompt clinicians to counsel patients that these supplements are unlikely to reduce the risk of lung cancer and may be detrimental.”

But one expert, Professor Maret Traber from Oregon State University, points out “The risk of supplemental vitamin E was largely confined to current smokers.” In fact, the Council for Responsible Nutrition points out “current smokers were 2,400% more likely to develop lung cancer.”

The bottom line?
“It would seem the best strategy [for avoiding lung cancer] is to quit smoking,” advises Dr. Traber.

3/11/08 20:41 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.