advertisement
26 February 2008

Vitamin E supplements too risky?

The consumption of vitamin E supplements by the general population should be discouraged, a new British study has concluded.

0
The use of vitamin E supplements appears to increase the risk of tuberculosis in some middle-aged smokers, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, which concluded that the use of these supplements should be discouraged in the general public.

In the overall analysis, vitamin E use did not affect the odds of tuberculosis in smokers. In people who smoked at least 20 cigarettes per day and consumed diets high in vitamin C, however, vitamin E supplements more than doubled the risk.

Vitamin E is a widely used dietary supplement believed to enhance immune function, note authors Dr Harri Hemila and Dr Jaakko Kaprio. However, trials in human subjects have shown unpredictable effects of vitamin E on various infectious diseases.

How the study was conducted
To examine the impact of vitamin E use on the risk of tuberculosis, the two researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland analysed data from the ATBC (Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention) Study.

The study participants were 29 023 male smokers, ages 50 to 69 years, who were randomly assigned to take daily supplements containing vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin E plus beta-carotene, or inactive placebo.

During a follow-up period of around 6 years, 174 cases of tuberculosis were diagnosed. Overall, neither vitamin E nor beta-carotene supplements affected the risk of tuberculosis.

Risk more than doubled
However, as noted, the combination of smoking 20 or more cigarettes per day and consuming a diet rich in vitamin C and vitamin E supplements more than doubled the risk of tuberculosis. Further analysis showed that the increased risk was restricted to the first year after vitamin E supplementation began.

"Although vitamin E may be beneficial in restricted population groups, those groups are poorly defined so far," Hemila and Kaprio point out.

"The consumption of vitamin E supplements by the general population should be discouraged because there is evidence of harm for some people," they conclude.

SOURCE: British Journal of Nutrition, online February 18, 2008. – (Reuters Health)

Read more:
Antioxidants may up cancer risk
Fish oil no heart help

February 2008

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Are you sure? »

Aid your digestion What are digestive disorders?

Are you really constipated?

Many people think that if they do not have two or more bowel movements every single day of their lives they are constipated. This is patently not true, writes DietDoc.

True of False? »

SEE: How anaphylactic shock affects your body

Stop believing these 10 allergy myths

Do you still believe that hay fever is caused by hay? Or that food allergies are really common? No, and no again. We bust 10 myths about allergies.