Vitamin E prevents lung cancer

Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 29, 2008

Vitamin E Prevents Lung Cancer
News Media Virtually Silent on Positive Vitamin Research

(OMNS, October 29, 2008) Researchers at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer
Center have found that taking more vitamin E substantially reduces lung cancer.
Their new study shows that people consuming the highest amounts of vitamin E had the
greatest benefit. When they compared persons taking the most vitamin E with those
taking the least, there was a 61% reduction in lung cancer risk. (1)

Lung cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer on earth; over 1.3 million people
are diagnosed with it each year. With medical treatment, survival rates are
"consistently poor," says Cancer Research UK. Lung cancer kills nearly 1.2 million
per year. It accounts for 12% of all cancers, but results in 18% of all cancer
deaths. (2) Anything that can reduce these dismal facts is important news . . .very
important. Yet the mainstream media have virtually ignored vitamin E's important
role as a cancer fighter.

A sixty-one percent reduction in lung cancer with vitamin E? How could the news
media have missed this one?

The news media probably did not miss it: they simply did not report it. They are
biased. You can see for yourself what bias there is. Try a "Google" search for any
of the major newspapers or broadcast media, using the name of the news organization
along with the phrase "vitamin E lung cancer." When you do, you will find that it
will quickly bring up previous items alleging that vitamin E might (somehow)
increase cancer risk. You will find little or nothing at all on how vitamin E
prevents cancer. Indeed, the bias is so strong that even a qualified search for
"increased vitamin E reduces lung cancer" will still, and preferentially, bring up
media coverage alleging that vitamin E is harmful. Negative reporting sells
newspapers and pulls in viewing audiences. The old editors' adage must still be
true: "If it bleeds, it leads."

Here's more positive vitamin E cancer research that the media "missed." A study in
2002 looked at patients with colon cancer "who received a daily dose of 750 mg of
vitamin E during a period of 2 weeks. Short-term supplementation with high doses of
dietary vitamin E leads to increased CD4:CD8 ratios and to enhanced capacity by
their T cells to produce the T helper 1 cytokines interleukin 2 and IFN-gamma. In 10
of 12 patients, an increase of 10% or more (average, 22%) in the number of T cells
producing interleukin 2 was seen after 2 weeks of vitamin E supplementation." The
authors concluded that "dietary vitamin E may be used to improve the immune
functions in patients with advanced cancer." That improvement was achieved in a mere
two weeks merits special attention. (3)

Was it on the news? Did you hear about how high doses of vitamin E help cancer
patients' immune systems in only two weeks? Why not? Might the answer possibly have
anything to do with money? One cannot watch television or read a magazine or
newspaper without it being obvious that drug company cash is one of the media's very
largest sources of revenue. Given where their advertising income comes from, it is
hardly a big surprise that media reporting on vitamins is biased. Well-publicized
vitamin scares feed the pharmaceutical industry. Successful reports of safe,
inexpensive vitamin therapy do not.

One commentator has observed that pharmaceutical and other "corporations marshal
huge public relations efforts on behalf of their agendas. In the United States the
170,000 public relations employees whose job it is to manipulate news, public
opinion and public policy in the interests of their clients outnumber news reporters
by 40,000." (4) Another commentator wrote that "Janine Jackson of Fairness and
Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a news media watchdog group, told the American Free
Press that 60 percent of journalists surveyed by FAIR admitted that advertisers 'try
to change stories (and) there is an overwhelming influence of corporations and
advertisers' on broadcast and print news reporting." (5)

Drug companies don't have any drug that can reduce lung cancer risk by 61%. If they
did, you would have heard all about it in their advertisements. And it would be all
over the news. Positive drug studies get the headlines. Positive vitamin studies
rarely do. This is an enormous public health problem with enormous consequences. A
cynic might say that press and television coverage of a vitamin study tends to be
inversely proportionate to the study's clinical usefulness. Truly valuable research
does not scare people; it helps people get well. It would be difficult to identify
anything more helpful than actively reporting the story when a vitamin is shown to
reduce lung cancer by 61%.

The good news about how important high quantities of vitamin E are in combating
cancer is not arising out of nowhere. A US National Library of Medicine MEDLINE
search will bring up over 3,000 studies on the subject, some dating back to 1946. By
the early 1950s, research clearly supported the use of vitamin E against cancer. (6)
Before 1960, vitamin E was shown to reduce the side effects of radiation cancer
treatment. (7) In reviewing vitamin E research, one notes that the high-dose studies
got the best results.

Vitamin E is not the sure cure for cancer. It is not certain prevention, either.
Stopping cigarette smoking is essential. But vitamin E is part of the solution, and
we need more of it. An independent panel of physicians and researchers (8) has
recently called for increasing the daily recommended intake for vitamin E to 200 IU.
The present US RDA/DRI is a mere 15-20 IU/day.

It is time to raise it. A lot.


(1) Mahabir S, Schendel K, Dong YQ, Barrera SL, Spitz MR, Forman MR. Dietary alpha-,
beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherols in lung cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2008 Sep


(3) Malmberg KJ, Lenkei R, Petersson M et al. A short-term dietary supplementation
of high doses of vitamin E increases T helper 1 cytokine production in patients with
advanced colorectal cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2002 Jun; 8(6):1772-8.

(4) Robbins R. Global problems and the culture of capitalism. Allyn and Bacon, 1999,
p 138.

(5) Prestage J. Mainstream journalism: Shredding the First Amendment. Online
Journal, November 7, 2002.

(6) Telford IR. The influence of alpha tocopherol on lung tumors in strain A mice.
Tex Rep Biol Med. 1955;13(3):515-21. Swick RW, Baumann CA, Miller WL Jr, Rumsfeld HW
Jr. Tocopherol in tumor tissues and effects of tocopherol on the development of
liver tumors. Cancer Res. 1951 Dec;11(12):948-53.

(7) Fischer W. [The protective effect of tocopherol against toxic phenomena
connected with the roentgen irradiation of mammary carcinoma.] Munch Med Wochenschr.
1959 Sep 4;101:1487-8. German. Also: Sabatini C, Balli L, Tagliavini R. [Effects of
vitamin E and testosterone in comparisons of skin exposed to high doses of roentgen
rays administered by semi-contact technic.] Riforma Med. 1955 Apr 30;69(18):Suppl,
1-4. Italian. See also: Graham JB, Graham RM. Enhanced effectiveness of radiotherapy
in cancer of the uterine cervix. Surg Forum. 1953;(38th Congress):332-8.

(8) Doctors say, Raise the RDAs now. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October
30, 2007.

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Damien Downing, M.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
James A. Jackson, PhD
Bo H. Jonsson, MD, Ph.D
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
Gert E. Shuitemaker, Ph.D.

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