E-vading Cancer

Colon cancer and other malignancies shirk vitamin E in vegetable oils

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The anti-cancer benefits of vitamin E have been all over the map. Some studies say it increases a person's cancer risk; others suggest just the opposite. Scientists have hit a slick spot in this discussion.

While supplements are not beneficial, scientists now believe that two forms of vitamin E found in in some vegetable oils do indeed help prevent breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.

"Stick with vegetable oils over margarine."

Researchers  at the Center for Cancer Prevention Research, at Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey have identified gamma and delta-tocopherols as the two potent forms of vitamin E that offer these benefits. 

Vitamin E found in soybean, canola and corn oils as well as nuts may have anti-cancer properties.

“There are studies suggesting that vitamin E actually increases the risk of cancer and decreases bone density,” says Chung S. Yang, director of the center.

“Our message is that the vitamin E form of gamma-tocopherols, the most abundant form of vitamin E in the American diet, and delta-tocopherols, also found in vegetable oils, are beneficial in preventing cancers while the form of vitamin E, alpha- tocopherol, the most commonly used in vitamin E supplements, has no such benefit.”

Results from animal and human epidemiological (patterns of disease origin) studies are summarized in an article in J

“When animals are exposed to cancer-causing substances, the group that was fed these tocopherols in their diet had fewer and smaller tumors,” Yang says. “When cancer cells were injected into mice these tocopherols also slowed down the development of tumors.”

Yang notes another recently published paper found that the delta-tocopherol form of vitamin E worked in suppressing colon cancer development in rats.

This is important news, especially in light of other recent studies found that the form of vitamin E found in supplements - alpha-tocopherol - signicantly increased the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men.

Yang says more studies are needed on the biological and anti-cancer effects of different forms of vitamin E.

“For people who think that they need to take vitamin E supplements, taking a mixture of vitamin E that resembles what is in our diet would be the most prudent supplement to take.” Yang says.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 3, 2012
Last Updated:
May 3, 2012