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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
 
Reference:
1.        Data accessed July 20, 2012 from the United State Cancer Statistics in the National Program of Cancer Registries on the CDC website
2.        Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC Cancer Base No. 10 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2010
3.        Sankaranarayanan R, Swaminathan R, Lucas E. Cancer Survival in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Central America (SurvCan). IARC Scientific Publications vol. 162, ISBN 978-92-832-2162-3. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2011.
4.        London WT, McGlynn KA. Liver cancer. In: Schottenfeld D, Fraumeni JF Jr, eds. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2006:763–786.
5.        Chuang SC, La Vecchia C, Boffetta P. Liver cancer: descriptive epidemiology and risk factors other than HBV and HCV infection. Cancer Lett. 2009;286(1):9–14.
6.        World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. Washington, DC: AICR; 2007.
7.        C. Vitamin Intake and Liver Cancer Risk: A Report From Two Cohort Studies in China. Jou Nat Cancer Inst 2012. DOI:10.1093/jnci/djs277
8.        Puertollano MA, Puertollano E, De Cienfuegos GA, et al. Dietary antioxidants: immunity and host defense. Curr Top Med Chem. 2011;11(14):1752–1766
9.        Zheng W, Chow WH, Yang G, et al. The Shanghai Women’s Health Study: rationale, study design, and baseline characteristics. Am J Epidemiol. 2005;162(11):1123–1131
10.     Villegas R, Yang G, Liu D, et al. Validity and reproducibility of the foodfrequency questionnaire used in the Shanghai Men’s Health Study. Br J Nutr. 2007;97(5):993–1000.
11.     Shu XO, Yang G, Jin F, et al. Validity and reproducibility of the food frequency questionnaire used in the Shanghai Women’s Health Study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004;58(1):17–23.
12.     Villegas R, Yang G, Liu D, et al. Validity and reproducibility of the foodfrequency questionnaire used in the Shanghai Men’s Health Study. Br J Nutr. 2007;97(5):993–1000.
13.     Ju J, Picinich SC, Yang Z, et al. Cancer-preventive activities of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Carcinogenesis. 2010;31(4):533–542
14.     Pekmezci D. Vitamin E and immunity. Vitam Horm. 2011;86:179–215.