Vitamin E’s Secret Weapon Against Prostate Cancer
Whether taking vitamin E cuts the risk of prostate cancer is uncertain. Some studies suggest it does; others do not.
To find out for sure, the National Institutes of Health is sponsoring a study, giving either vitamin E, selenium or both to a large group of American men. The results are not expected until 2011.
In the meantime, a team of the NIH-funded investgators at the University of Rochester have discovered a new important way that vitamin E can interrupt the progress of prostate cancer, adding credibility to its cancer-fighting potential.
The researchers have identified a protein called alpha tocopherol associated protein (TAP) that works with vitamin E to boost its ability to block the growth of prostate cancer. The protein facilitates the transport of vitamin E into prostate tissue and increases the vitamin’s capacity to suppress the proliferation of cancer cells.
In previous research, the investigators have found that vitamin E disrupts the production of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a key player in the development and progression of prostate cancer.
“No one really knows how vitamin E works,” said co-author of the new study, Edward Messing, but discovery of the new protein could be a clue to vitamin E’s anti-cancer effect. TAP also has anti-cancer activity, and could be a biomarker for the progression of prostate cancer.
About 232,000 new cases and 30,000 deaths in the US are expected this year from prostate cancer. (Source: Ni J Wen X, Cancer Research 2005 Nov 1:65(21): 9807-16)