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Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani




Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani





Study findings pose more questions but few answers
3/9/2005 - PARSIPPANY, N.J. -- Results from the recently completed Women'sHealth Study (WHS), funded both by the National Heart, Lung and BloodInstitute and the National Cancer Institute, indicate that vitamin Esupplementation provided neither benefit nor harm in relation to firstcardiovascular events including heart attack, stroke and death fromcardiovascular disease. Though vitamin E was not found to reduce the riskof first-time cardiovascular events, it was found unequivocally to be safefor consumption at the level of 600 IU every other day. Additionalanalyses are being done to determine whether any secondary benefits wereseen from the supplementation.

The results are being presented on March 7, 2005 at the American Collegeof Cardiology meeting taking place in Orlando. These findings arecontradictory to certain previous reports that vitamin E, an essentialnutrient and powerful antioxidant, lends a positive influence in theprimary prevention of cardiovascular disease. In addition, a number ofplausible mechanisms have been demonstrated to explain the cardiovascularbenefit.

A number of studies have shown protective role for vitamin E againstcardiovascular disease, despite the fact that some, including WHS, havefailed to demonstrate the benefit. One explanation for the inconsistenciesis that cardiovascular diseases are multifactorial in etiology, and it istherefore difficult to demonstrate clearly the preventive role thatvitamin E may play. Other studies are underway to seek an explanation forthe inconsistencies.


The WHS is a large, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trialinitiated to evaluate the benefits and risks of low dose aspirin (100 mgevery other day), as well as vitamin E supplementation (600 IU every otherday), in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. The trialincluded 39,876 healthy women 45 years of age and older who were monitoredfor 10 years for first major cardiovascular events, including heartattack, stroke and death from cardiovascular causes.


It is important to note that vitamin E has been shown to reduce the riskof other chronic diseases. A number of credible studies links consumptionof vitamin E with eye health, immune function and cognitive health (andprotective effects against Alzheimer's disease) and reduced risk ofprostate cancer.

It is very difficult to obtain adequate levels of vitamin E from the diet,particularly in low-fat, heart healthy diets. Based on data from the 1994and 1995 Continued Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, Americans onlyconsume 8.1 mg alpha-tocopherol equivalents (12 IU) of vitamin E each day.

In addition to a healthy lifestyle, well-balanced diet, reasonableexercise plan and not smoking, it would be prudent for health careprofessionals to continue to recommend a modest dose of a vitamin Esupplement daily.

Select References: 1. The REACT Group. The Roche European AmericanCataract Trial (REACT): a randomized clinical trial to investigate theefficacy of an oral antioxidant micronutrient mixture to slow progressionof age-related cataract. [In press: Ophthalmic Epidemiology 2001;8(4)> 2.Age-Related Eye Disease Study Group, "A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled,Clinical Trial of High-Dose Supplementation with Vitamins C and E, BetaCarotene and Zinc for Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Vision Loss"AREDS Report #8 Arch Ophthalmology 2001; 199:1417-1436. 3. Seddon JM, etal. Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E and advanced age-relatedmacular degeneration. Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group. JAMA 1994a;272(18): 1413-20. 4. Meydani SN, et al. Vitamin E and Respiratory TractInfections in Elderly Nursing Home Residents: A Randomized ControlledTrial. JAMA 2004;292(7):828-836 5. Meydani SN, et al. Vitamin Esupplementation enhances in vivo immune response in healthy elderly: Adose-response study. JAMA 1997;277:1380-6. 6. Morris, Evans, Bienias, Tangney, Wilson. Vitamin E andCognitive Decline in Older Persons. Arch Neurol 2002;59:1125-32 7.Sano,M., et. al.. A controlled trial of seleciline, alpha-tocopherol, orboth as treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's DiseaseCooperative Study. N Engl J Med 1997;336(17): 1216-22. 8. Heinonen, OP,et. al. Prostate cancer and supplementation with alpha- tocopherol andbeta-carotene: Incidence and mortality in a controlled trial. J NatlCancer Inst 1998; 90:440-46

The Vitamin & Nutraceutical Information Service (VNIS) was established in1979 by what was then the Roche Fine Chemical Division of RochePharmaceuticals (now supported by DSM Nutritional Products, Inc.) as asource of reliable and credible information about vitamins for health andnutrition professionals and communicators. The VNIS monitors anddisseminates vitamin research, sponsors professional symposia on currentvitamin topics, and generates materials to educate professionals about theroles of vitamins in health.

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