Originally published October 17 2011
Beware of mass misinformation - Know the real story behind Vitamin E and Prostate Cancer
by Ethan Evers
(NaturalNews) The mass media is now widely disseminating recent negative results of the ongoing SELECT trial (Selenium and Vitamin E in Preventing Prostate Cancer), which showed that men who were taking 400 IU vitamin E per day had a 17% greater risk of prostate cancer. One doctor interviewed has even recommended that men stop taking their vitamin E supplements and talk to their doctors. But the definition of "vitamin E" being used is perhaps far too loose because not all vitamin E is created equal, and in this case that could literally mean the difference between life and death.
Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamin E
The men in the SELECT trial were being given 100% synthetic dl-alpha-tocopheryl-acetate. This form has for many years been regarded as inferior to natural d-alpha-tocopherol: the l- form present in the synthetic vitamin is not recognized by the body and may actually prevent the d- form from entering cell membranes to do its work. In addition, one study done in 1980 on humans showed that synthetic vitamin E had no more than half the biological potency of the natural vitamin. Look at any nutritional supplement retailer today and you will likely find the vast majority of vitamin E offered to be natural in origin because that is what customers are demanding.
Vitamin E Shown Protective in the VITAL Cohort
In fact, this is the likely explanation for why another large study--the VITAL cohort--produced results that were exactly opposite to those of the SELECT trial. Starting in the year 2000, over 35,000 men were observed for prostate cancer development and were assessed for supplement intake via detailed questionnaires. The men taking 400 IU or more of vitamin E daily for 10 years actually saw a "non-significant" risk reduction for prostate cancer of 14%. Much more surprising is that these men also saw a "significant" risk reduction of 57% for developing advanced prostate cancer. The men in this study were all taking vitamin E on their own accord, and the source (natural vs. synthetic) was not disclosed. It is reasonable to assume that a significant portion of these men were taking the natural form of vitamin E, and that this form provided superior protection from cancer compared to the synthetic form given to participants in the SELECT trial.
Does Money Talk Louder Than Science?
It is astounding and unfortunate that the VITAL cohort results never received press coverage even comparable to that of the SELECT trial's negative results. It is also unfortunate that the VITAL results are not discussed in the JAMA paper which covers the latest SELECT results. Why might the authors of this paper be so one-sided against natural medicine for cancer? Readers are directed to the JAMA paper itself for the answer, to be found in the section entitled "Conflicts of Interest Disclosure." Several of the authors have directly received funding from large pharma companies.
The SELECT trial has shown that synthetic vitamin E may increase prostate cancer risk, but these results are not necessarily transferrable to natural vitamin E. Until another SELECT-type trial is run using natural vitamin E (preferably with mixed tocopherols), men may wish to ask their doctors about the difference between natural vs. synthetic vitamin E in light of recent large studies (such as the VITAL cohort) which appear to support the role of vitamin E in preventing prostate cancer.
About the authorEthan Evers is author of the award-winning medical thriller “The Eden Prescription,” in which natural medicine outperforms a billion-dollar chemo drug and threatens the entire $50 billion cancer drug industry. Ethan based The Eden Prescription on the latest science on natural medicine for cancer, and wrote it to show the future reality that natural medicine can bring us—and to warn of the strategies now being used by those who are trying to stop it. Ethan has a PhD in Applied Science.
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