Vitamin E may increase prostate cancer risk, study says
October 11th, 2011
05:20 PM ET

Vitamin E may increase prostate cancer risk, study says

Very high amounts of vitamin E– much higher than what's  in multivitamins–may increase a man's risk for prostate cancer, according to a study published Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic created the SELECT trial in 2001 to investigate the protective benefits of both selenium and vitamin E for prostate cancer prevention, but found just the opposite: Vitamin E, specifically, caused a significant increase in prostate cancer risk in the study group, while selenium showed no added risk, but also no benefit.

"These were surprising findings in view of all the data that suggested they were beneficial," said Dr. Eric Klein, chairman of Urology at the Cleveland Clinic and the lead author of the study.  And, he said, the numbers were equally surprising.

"For every 1,000 men who took a placebo, there were only 65 new cancers," he said. "For every 1,000 men who took vitamin E, 76 got prostate cancer. That's a statistically significant increase."

A 17% increase in fact - too high to attribute the additional cases merely to chance, he said.

Based on the results of this trial, Klein suggested that men should have a serious conversation with their doctors about whether taking vitamin E supplements is a good idea.

"About half the men who are age 60 or older take vitamin E, and about a quarter take vitamin E at the level that was used in [the trial]: 400 international units or more," he said. "In my opinion, there is no compelling evidence that vitamins are beneficial, and there is some evidence that they can be harmful."

Klein said many multivitamins contain much smaller amounts of vitamin E – around 15 IU – slightly less than the 22 IU of vitamin E per day recommended by the Institute of Medicine.  The people in the study were getting 18 times what is recommended daily.  Klein said it's unclear what effect vitamin E at low doses may have on prostate cancer risk.

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. this site

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    July 29, 2012 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Rocco Arflack

    Calcium from dairy products was associated with prostate cancer risk as well, but not calcium from other foods. In the researchers' opinion, their results support the hypothesis that a high intake of protein or calcium from dairy products may increase the risk for prostate cancer...**

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    July 1, 2013 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Gary Hardenbrook

    The following represents my opinion of this article: The study is seriously flawed as the vitamin E used was of the synthetic variety (dl-alpha) rather than natural and did not include the important gamma tocopherals. CNN should be ashamed of itself for parroting this bogus info.

    July 2, 2013 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Domenic Turner

    conmanai dgrasdd


    September 11, 2016 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.