WHILE some supplements like vitamin D during winter months are non-negotiable, others are not as black and white. Experts and researchers have put supplements under heavy scrutiny in recent years, with some of the little products showing conflicting evidence. One study warns that an “essential” vitamin could increase the risk of prostate cancer by 63 percent.
The vitamin in question is vitamin E. However, the evidence on the nutrient is not that clear as some studies share it might cut the risk of cancer while others underline the opposite. “Vitamin E is an essential fat-soluble antioxidant which has been shown to possess significant anti-cancer benefits,” said the founder of Mind Body Medical, Dr Sam Watts MCMA, Dip.Ayu, MSc, BSc (Hons), PhD.
Despite this, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, advised men against taking the product.
Dr Watts said: “Of even more importance is the existence of clinical evidence to show that vitamin E may actually increase cancer risk by promoting cancer-forming damage with the DNA whilst also increasing cell growth rates.”
Looking at more than 35,000 men divided into four groups, the study had to come to halt due to the high cancer risk occurrence.
The subjects were taking either vitamin E, selenium, a placebo or a combination of these.
Both vitamin E and selenium were consequently linked to cancer.
The research suggested that vitamin E boosted the risk of low-grade and high-grade prostate cancer in men with lower selenium levels by 63 and 46 percent respectively.
And selenium was associated with an increased risk of high-grade cancer in men with higher selenium levels.
In the UK, more than 47,500 men are diagnosed with this cancer type every year, according to Prostate Cancer UK. The study concluded that men should avoid taking vitamin E supplements at doses that exceed recommended intake.
Although this study recognised a higher risk of cancer associated with vitamin E products, other studies found positive benefits in vitamin E users.
Dr Watts said: “Clinical evidence has observed vitamin E to be correlated with a significant risk reduction for both lung and breast cancer.
“This relationship was even maintained among active smokers, suggesting vitamin E can inhibit the known carcinogenic impacts of cigarette smoke.”
For example, research, published in the journal Annals of Saudi Medicine, found a “significant” reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer.
However, this same benefit wasn’t observed for any other cancer type.
“Vitamin E can be used in the prevention of prostate cancer in men who are at high risk of prostate cancer,” the study noted.
There’s also research that questions the positive cancer effects of vitamin E.
Cancer signs and symptoms.
Dr Watts said: “However, in recent years the cancer preventing benefits of vitamin E have been called into question due to powerful, large-scale research showing that vitamin E does not reduce cancer risk.
“For example, the now famous Women’s Health Study, which followed almost forty thousand women for over twenty years, showed unequivocally that vitamin E did not reduce the incidence of cancer.”
The doctor added that your genes and their variations may play a bigger role in this risk than the actual supplement.
When it comes to the correct dosage, the NHS states that the recommend daily amount is set at four micrograms a day for men and three micrograms for women.
However, it shares that “you should be able to get all the vitamin E you need from your diet”