Yesterday a study hit the media attempting to persuade people that vitamin E is dangerous for prostate health. However there are some major flaws with the information as it is being presented. In following up on the story, I found the actual research that the article is based on. You can read it here, and you can read how it was conducted here. Below are a couple common errors when researching Vitamin E. This is also a helpful checklist for finding a GOOD form to supplement with, should you choose to do so.
1. What kind of Vitamin E is it?
It is very common for researchers to use synthetic forms of vitamin E during research because it’s cheaper, and that’s exactly what these researchers did. In this study rac-α-tocopheryl acetate (a.k.a. DL-α-tocopheryl acetate) was the type of Vitamin E used. The
problem is this: it is not the same thing. This type of vitamin E is purely synthetic, and not the same thing as naturally occurring Vitamin E. There are in fact 8 different naturally occuring forms of Vitamin E (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol). As you can see to the right, though similar, the synthetic and naturally occurring Vitamin E’s are not the same thing.
The study showed that after 1.5 years of discontinuing the supplement, the group that had taken 400IU of synthetic Vitamin E had increased prostate cancer rates to 7% of population, compared to 6% of the placebo group. What this means is that after STOPPING the synthetic Vitamin E, there was a 1% increase in prostate cancer. At best, this proves that you shouldn’t use high doses of a synthetic form of Vitamin E.
The following 10 studies all show natural forms of vitamin E to be ANTI-cancerous and beneficial to the prostate.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21400505 - Gamma-tocotrienol induces apoptosis and autophagy in prostate cancer cells by increasing intracellular dihydrosphingosine and dihydroceramide.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15596715 - gamma-Tocopherol or combinations of vitamin E forms induce cell death in human prostate cancer cells by interrupting sphingolipid synthesis.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10332921 - Vitamin E, alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, and prostate cancer.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17548693 - Serum and dietary vitamin E in relation to prostate cancer risk.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15753180 - Gamma-tocopherol induces apoptosis in androgen-responsive LNCaP prostate cancer cells via caspase-dependent and independent mechanisms.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19842103 - Anticancer actions of natural and synthetic vitamin E forms: RRR-alpha-tocopherol blocks the anticancer actions of gamma-tocopherol.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19002171 - Gamma-tocotrienol suppresses prostate cancer cell proliferation and invasion through multiple-signalling pathways.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20617516 - Gamma-tocotrienol as an effective agent in targeting prostate cancer stem cell-like population.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16762318 - Tocotrienol-rich fraction of palm oil induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis selectively in human prostate cancer cells.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19373609 - Evidence of gamma-tocotrienol as an apoptosis-inducing, invasion-suppressing, and chemotherapy drug-sensitizing agent in human melanoma cells.