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Last Updated: 12/02/20

Vitamin E May Reduce Lung Cancer Risk

Results of an NCI sponsored clinical study investigating alpha-tocopherol (the most abundant, biologically active form of Vitamin E) blood serum concentrations have been released, demonstrating an inverse relationship between serum alpha-tocopherol levels and risk of lung cancer development in a large cohort of male smokers. The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2020.

This prospective study, an extended analysis of the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study, followed a cohort of 22,781 male smokers while ascertaining the incidence of lung cancer cases related to serum alpha-tocopherol levels both at baseline and 3 years following. A total of 3,184 lung cancer cases were diagnosed during up to 28 years of observation.

After adjusting for age, BMI, smoking intensity and duration, as well as serum total cholesterol levels, higher serum alpha-tocopherol concentrations at baseline and 3 years were significantly associated with a 21-24% lower lung cancer risk, as compared to individuals with lower serum concentrations of this vitamin E form. Interestingly, the inverse risk association appeared strongest for younger men who had smoked for fewer years. Reduced risk was also significantly associated with men who had higher concentrations of serum alpha-tocopherol at 3 years than originally at baseline.

Following up to 28 years of observation, the present study provides evidence that higher vitamin E status, as measured by serum alpha-tocopherol concentration, as well as repletion of low levels in the blood, is associated with a lower risk of lung cancer development in male smokers. These results suggest the importance of adequate physiologic vitamin E levels in reducing the risk of lung cancer.

Huang J, Weinstein SJ, Yu K, MAännistö S, Albanes D. A Prospective Study of Serum Vitamin E and 28-Year Risk of Lung Cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2020 Feb 1;112(2):191-199. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djz077. PMID: 31077299; PMCID: PMC7019088.

PubMed Abstract to this Clinical Study