FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 14, 2011
Vitamin E Attacked Again
Of Course. Because It Works.
by Andrew W. Saul
Editor, Orthomolecular Medicine News Service
(OMNS, Oct 14, 2011) The very first
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service release was on the clinical
benefits of vitamin E. That was seven years ago. (1) In fact, the battle
over vitamin E has been going full-tilt for over 60 years. (2)
Well, you can say one thing for vitamin
critics: at least they are consistent. Consistently wrong, but
A recent accusation against vitamin E is
that somehow it increases risk of prostate cancer. (3) That is nonsense.
If you take close look at the numbers, you will see that "Compared with
placebo, the absolute increase in risk of prostate cancer per 1000
person-years was 1.6 for vitamin E, 0.8 for selenium, and 0.4 for the
combination." That works out to be a claimed 0.63% increase risk with
vitamin E alone, 0.24% increase in risk with vitamin E and selenium, and
0.15% increase in risk for selenium alone.
Note the decimal points: these are very
small figures. But more importantly, note that the combination of
selenium with vitamin E resulted in a much smaller number of deaths. If
vitamin E were really the problem, vitamin E with selenium would have
been a worse problem. Selenium recharges vitamin E, recycling it and
effectively rendering it more potent. Something is wrong here, and it
isn't the vitamin E. Indeed, a higher dose of vitamin E might work as
well as E with selenium, and be more protective.
And, in fact, this study did show that
supplementation was beneficial. Vitamin E and selenium reduced risk of
all-cause mortality by about 0.2%., and also reduced the risk of serious
cardiovascular events by 0.3%. Vitamin E reduced risk of serious
cardiovascular events by 0.7%. But what you were told, and just about
all you were told, was "Vitamin E causes cancer!"
The oldest political trick in the book
is to create doubt, then fear, and then conformity of action. The
pharmaceutical industry knows this full well. One does not waste time
and money attacking something that does not work. Vitamin E works, and
the evidence is abundant.
Specifically in regards to prostate
cancer, new research published in the International Journal of
Cancer has shown that gamma-tocotrienol, a cofactor found
in natural vitamin E preparations, actually kills prostate cancer stem
cells. (4) As you would expect, these are the very cells from
which prostate cancer develops. They are or quickly become
chemotherapy-resistant. And yet natural vitamin E complex contains the
very thing to kill them. Mice given gamma-tocotrienol orally had an
astonishing 75% decrease in tumor formation. Gamma-tocotrienol also is
effective against existing prostate tumors. (5,6)
What Kind of Vitamin E?
Which work best: natural or synthetic
vitamins? The general debate might not end anytime soon. However, with
vitamin E, we already know. The best E is the most natural form,
generally called "mixed natural tocopherols and tocotrienols." This is
very different from the synthetic form, DL-alpha tocopherol. In choosing
a vitamin E supplement, you should carefully read the label... the
entire label. It is remarkable how many natural-looking brown bottles
with natural-sounding brand names contain a synthetic vitamin. And no,
we do not make brand recommendations. Furthermore, OMNS has no
commercial affiliations or funding.
Unfortunately, that's not the case with
some authors of the negative vitamin E paper. (3) You will not see this
in the abstract at the JAMA website, of course, but if you read the
entire paper, and get to the very last page (1556), you'll find the
"Conflict of Interest" section. Here you will discover that a number of
the study authors have received money from pharmaceutical companies,
including Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Abbott,
GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Amgen, Firmagon, and Novartis. In terms of
cash, these are some of the largest corporations on the planet.
Well how about that: a "vitamins are
dangerous" article, in one of the most popular medical journals, with
lots of media hype . . . and the pharmaceutical industry's fingerprints
all over it.
So How Much Vitamin E?
More than the RDA, and that's for
certain. A common dosage range for vitamin E is between 200 and 800
IU/day. Some orthomolecular physicians advocate substantially more than
that. The studies cited above will give you a ballpark idea. However,
this is an individual matter for you and your practitioner to work out.
Your own reading and research, before you go to your doctor, will help
you determine optimal intake. If your doctor quotes a negative vitamin
study, then haul out the positive ones. You may start with this article.
There are more links to more information at
And as for the old saw argument that
supplement-users are supposedly dying like flies, consider this: Over
200 million Americans take vitamin supplements. So where are the bodies?
Well, there aren't any. There has not been a single death from vitamins
in 27 years.
http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n05.shtml . Share that
with your doctor as well. And with the news media.
(Andrew W. Saul has been an
orthomolecular medical writer and lecturer for 35 years. He received the
Outstanding Health Freedom Activist Award from Citizen's for Health, and
is the winner of three Empire State teacher fellowships. Saul is author
or coauthor of 10 books, four of which are with Abram Hoffer, M.D..)
2. Saul AW. Vitamin E: A cure in search
of recognition. J Orthomolecular Med, 2003. Vol 18, No 3 and 4, p
205-212. Free download at
or html at
http://www.doctoryourself.com/evitamin.htm . See also: Saul AW.
Review of The vitamin E story, by Evan Shute. J Orthomolecular Med,
2002. Volume 17, Number 3, Third Quarter, p 179-181.
3. Klein EA, Thompson Jr, IM, Tangen CM
et al. JAMA. 2011;306(14):1549-1556.
http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/306/14/1549 Also, as an example of
many media spins:
4. Sze Ue Luk1, Wei Ney Yap, Yung-Tuen
Chiu et al. Gamma-tocotrienol as an effective agent in targeting
prostate cancer stem cell-like population. International Journal of
Cancer, 2011. Vol 128, No 9, p 2182-2191.
5. Nesaretnam K, Teoh HK, Selvaduray KR,
Bruno RS, Ho E. Modulation of cell growth and apoptosis response in
human prostate cancer cells supplemented with tocotrienols. Eur. J.
Lipid Sci. Technol. 2008, 110, 23-31.
6. Conte C, Floridi A, Aisa C et al.
Gamma-tocotrienol metabolism and antiproliferative effect in prostate
cancer cells. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2004. 1031:
Also of Interest:
Vitamin E research ignored by major news
media. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, May 25, 2010
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Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (Canada)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
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