Low lung cancer risk linked to high dietary vitamin E intake

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THursday June 12, 2014 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new Chinese study in International Journal of Cancer suggests that increased intake of dietary vitamin E, but not supplemental vitamin E may reduce risk of lung cancer in Chinese female nonsmokers.

The Shanghai Women's Health Study of 72,829 Chinese female nonsmokers aged 40 to 70 years shows that total dietary tocopherol was inversely correlated with lung cancer risk among women who met dietary guidelines for adequate intake of tocopherol, compared with those who did not.

Specifically, those who had a total of 14 mg vitamin E per day or higher intake of dietary tocopherol were 22% less likely to develop lung cancer, compared with those who did not have sufficient intake of dietary vitamin E.

Vitamin E seems more protective against lung cancer among women who were exposed to second-hand smoke at home or workplace.  Those who had sufficient dietary vitamin E intake were 47% less likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer.

In contrast, use of vitamin E supplements was correlated with elevated lung cancer risk, that is, those who used vitamin E supplements were 33% more likely to develop lung cancer.  The lung adenocarcinoma risk was increased by 79% among those who received vitamin E supplementation.

For the study, all participants were followed up for an average of 12 years.  Dietary and supplemental tocopherol intakes were assessed through a validated food frequency questionnaire at baseline and during the follow-up.

Vitamin E or tocopherol is found in vegetable oils.  Studies have shown that the form of vitamin E (gamma-tocopherol) found in corn oil, soybean oil and canola oil is pro-inflammatory while the form of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) found in olive oil and peanut oil protects against lung disease.

Delta-tocopherol is strongest in protecting against lung cancer, compared with alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol, according to a new study.  The study led by Rutgers University scientists suggests alpha-tocopherol does not have an effect on lung cancer.  But other studies suggest that alpha-tocopherol may cut risk of lung cancer. (David Liu, PHD)

Wu QJ, Xiang YB, Yang G, Li HL, Lan Q, Gao YT, Zheng W, Shu XO, Fowke JH.  Vitamin E intake and the lung cancer risk among female nonsmokers: A report from the Shanghai Women's Health Study.  Int J Cancer. 2014 Jun 11. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29016.

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