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High-dosage vitamin E supplementation and all-cause mortality

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Annals of internal medicine (Impact Factor: 17.81). 08/2005; 143(2):152-3; author reply 156-8.
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: There has been concern that long-term supplementation with high-dose antioxidant vitamins, especially vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), may increase all-cause mortality. We conducted a randomized controlled trial with alpha-tocopherol (400 IU/day) and beta-carotene (30 mg/day) supplements among 540 head and neck cancer patients treated by radiation therapy. Supplementation with beta-carotene was discontinued during the trial. The supplements were given during radiation therapy and for 3 additional years. During the follow-up (median 6.5 years), 179 deaths were recorded. All death certificates were obtained. All-cause and cause-specific mortality rates were compared between the 2 arms of the trial by Cox regression. All-cause mortality was significantly increased in the supplement arm: hazard ratio: 1.38, 95% confidence interval 1.03-1.85. Cause-specific mortality rates tended to be higher in the supplement arm than in the placebo arm. Our results concur with previous reports to suggest that high-dose vitamin E could be harmful.
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    ABSTRACT: Randomised clinical trials and epidemiologic studies addressing the preventive effects of vitamin E supplementation against cardiovascular disease reported both positive and negative effects, and recent meta-analyses of the clinical studies were rather disappointing. In contrast to that, many animal studies clearly show a preventive action of vitamin E in several experimental settings, which can be explained by the molecular and cellular effects of vitamin E observed in cell cultures. This review is focusing on the molecular effects of vitamin E on the cells playing a role during atherosclerosis, in particular on the endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells, monocytes/macrophages, T cells, and mast cells. Vitamin E may act by normalizing aberrant signal transduction and gene expression in antioxidant and non-antioxidant manners; in particular, over-expression of scavenger receptors and consequent foam cell formation can be prevented by vitamin E. In addition to that, the cellular effects of alpha-tocopheryl phosphate and of EPC-K1, a composite molecule between alpha-tocopheryl phosphate and l-ascorbic acid, are summarized.
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    ABSTRACT: Observational studies with healthy persons demonstrated an inverse association of vitamin E with the risk of coronary heart disease or cancer, the outcome of large-scale clinical trials conducted to prove a benefit of vitamin E in the recurrence and/or progression of such disease, however, was disappointing. Vitamin E did not provide benefits to patients with cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or hypertension. Even harmful events and worsening of pre-existing diseases were reported, which are hard to explain. Since vitamin E is metabolized along the same routes as xenobiotics and induces drug-metabolizing enzymes in rodents, it is hypothesized that a supplementation with high dosages of vitamin E may also lead to an induction of the drug-metabolizing system in patients that depend on drug therapy. Compromising essential therapy might therefore outweigh any benefit of vitamin E in patients. It is recommended to work out at which threshold the drug-metabolizing system can be induced in humans before new trials with high dosages of vitamin E are started.
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