Study Links Vitamin E to Liver Health
By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, July 20, 2012, abstracted from “Vitamin Intake and Liver Cancer Risk: A Report From Two Cohort Studies in China” printed online July 17, 2012 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer in men and the seventh in women worldwide. While liver cancer is less common in the United States compared to the rest of the world (12,302 U.S. deaths in 2008 (1)), 85% of liver cancers occur in developing countries, and 54% occur in China (2). Liver cancer has an overall 5-year survival rate of less than 15%, making it the third most common cause of cancer death worldwide (2,3).
The two biggest risk factors for liver cancer are chronic infections with the hepatitis B and/or the hepatitis C viruses, both of which are much more common in regions of Africa and Asia, especially in China (4,5,6). Now a new study (7) suggests that vitamin E may play a role in liver health.
Building upon previous research showing that vitamin E may play a role in immune system strength and vulnerability to infection (8), researchers looked at data from 132,837 patients participating in the Shanghai Women’s Health Study from 1997 to 2000 (9) or the Shanghai Men’s Health Study from 2002 to 2006 (10). Researchers conducted in-person interviews and had the patients fill out a validated food-frequency questionnaire specific to Chinese women (11) and men (12) to collect data on their dietary habits. The patients completed these tasks every 2-3 years while they were involved in the respective Shanghai health studies.
The researchers found vitamin E intake to have a significant effect in helping maintain liver health. For both men and women, those with the highest vitamin E intake per day (more than 16.176 mg (24 IU) per day)) had a 40% reduced risk of liver cancer, compared to those with the lowest vitamin E intake (less than 9.977 mg (14.8 IU) per day), p = 0.01. When they looked at men and women separately, women had a 51% reduced risk (p = 0.003) while the data in men did not reach statistical significance. (p = 0.24).
The researchers cited health benefits of vitamin E that may influence liver health that include helping maintain DNA health, enhance DNA repair, inhibit the activation of carcinogens, and maintain immune system strength (13,14). The researchers went on to conclude that “Vitamin E intake, either from diet or supplements, may reduce the risk of liver cancer.”
Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Hauppauge, NY. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com
1. Data accessed July 20, 2012 from the United State Cancer Statistics in the National Program of Cancer Registries on the CDC website
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