WASHINGTON — Vitamin E pills reduced prostate cancer risk by a third and the disease's death rate by 41% in a study of thousands of smokers, researchers report. The same study, in Finland, found that a form of vitamin A had no effect on reducing cancer.
"There may be a pattern developing of some kind of broad cancer preventive effect from vitamin E," said Dr. Demetrius Albanes, a National Cancer Institute researcher and co-author of the study.
A report on the research will be published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Albanes said that although both vitamin E and beta carotene, the form of vitamin A used in the study, are antioxidants, only vitamin E appears to give a statistically significant protection against cancer.
In fact, said Albanes, the data suggest that beta carotene users in the study were about 16% more likely to develop lung cancer. This result, first reported three years ago, startled many researchers, who had expected beta carotene to be proved as a cancer preventive.