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Vitamin E Keeps Death Away!

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Remember that headline a couple of years ago, saying raised your risk of dying? Now a massive new study by the National Cancer Institute finds just the opposite.

In truth, vitamin E is a biological marker in the blood that predicts lower death rates. Specifically, high blood levels of vitamin E slashed the risk of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease and total mortality among 29,000 older male smokers followed over 19 years, say NCI researchers.

Here are the facts: Men with the highest blood vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) compared to those with the lowest blood vitamin E were–

*18% less apt to die from any cause

*19% less apt to die of cardiovascular disease

*21% less apt to die of cancer

More specifically, high circulating blood levels of vitamin E cut the risk of dying from prostate cancer by 32%, lung cancer by 21%, ischemic (blood clot) stroke by 37%, hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke by 35%, and respiratory disease by 42%.

The lifesaving power of vitamin E was much higher than expected, said researchers. But the proof from measuring blood levels of vitamin E is much stronger than that from other studies that merely estimate intake of vitamin E from food and supplements, they explained.

How much vitamin E is enough? According to Dr. Maret G. Traber, vitamin E expert at the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon State University, 93% of Americans would probably have to take vitamin E  supplements to achieve optimal vitamin E blood levels found in men with the lowest death rates in the NCI study.

Whether vitamin E offers similar protection to nonsmokers and women should be addressed by future studies, researchers said.

(Source: Wright, Margaret E. Am J Clin Nutr 2006; 84:1200-7. Traber, Maret G, 959-60)

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Article updated on: November 11th, 2006

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