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January 25, 2011
Study associates vitamin E supplementation with increased life span among specific groups
A report published online on January 17, 2011 in the journal Age and Ageing describes the finding of Dr Harri Hemila and Professor Jaakko Kaprio of the University of Helsinki of an association between supplementing with vitamin E and longer life among older male smokers, particularly in those who smoked less than a pack of cigarettes per day and whose dietary intake of vitamin C was high. "This is the first study to strongly indicate that protection against oxidative stress can increase the life expectancy of some initially healthy population groups," Drs Hemila and Kaprio announce.
The study involved 10,837 participants in the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer (ATBC) Prevention Study which examined the effect of supplementation with these nutrients on the risk of lung cancer in Finnish male smokers aged 50–69 years upon enrollment. Participants received beta-carotene, vitamin E, both beta-carotene and vitamin E, or a placebo from enrollment beginning in 1985, through April 1993.
The current analysis was restricted to men who participated in follow-up past the age of 65. "If vitamin E has an effect on life span, then we should be interested in the oldest people, and more specifically, on people old at follow-up," Dr Hemila told Life Extension®. "When a 50-year old-man is followed up for one year, his age is 51 years. When a 69 year old man is followed for 10 years, then his age is 79 years. Thus, the age-at-follow-up has great variation."
"Therefore, young participants are uninformative if we are interested in life span," he concluded. "For practical reasons, we analyzed only the follow-up time when participants were at least 65 years old."
One thousand four hundred forty-four deaths occurred over the study's follow-up period. While supplementing with vitamin E appeared to have no effect on the life span of subjects between the ages of 65 to 70, mortality over follow-up was reduced by 24 percent when the subjects were 71 years of age or older compared to those who did not receive the vitamin. This effect was mainly due to fewer deaths among men who smoked less than a pack of cigarettes daily and whose vitamin C intake was above the median of the study's participants, for whom supplementing with vitamin E was associated with an average increase in life span of two years.
The study's authors attribute the benefit observed in association with vitamin E in this study to the vitamin's protective effect against oxidative stress. ”Our findings among the older ATBC participants support the previous reports indicating that protective measures against oxidative stress may increase the life expectancy of mammals under some conditions," they conclude.
More than 90 percent of lung cancers are unquestionably caused by tobacco and the 4,000 cancer-causing substances in cigarette smoke (van Zandwijk N et al 2000). The risk of developing lung cancer increases 20- to 40-fold for lifelong smokers and 1.5-fold for people with long-term passive exposure to cigarette smoke. Population studies show that approximately 15 percent of heavy smokers will ultimately develop lung cancer but that, interestingly, 85 percent of heavy smokers will not develop lung cancer because of innate differences in cancer susceptibility, or in other words, genetics. If a family member has lung cancer, chances are your genes render you susceptible to cancer, and you should stop smoking. The lung cancer death rate is related to the total number of cigarettes smoked, and the risk for a man smoking two packs daily for 20 years is 60- to 70-fold the risk run by a nonsmoker. Among individuals who smoke 15 or more cigarettes per day, reducing smoking by 50 percent significantly reduces the danger of lung cancer (Godtfredsen NS et al 2005). In addition, stopping smoking may prolong survival of cancer patients (Ozlu T et al 2005). To reduce risk:
- Stop smoking. Use nicotine replacement therapy, Zyban®, counseling, and herbal tea made of cloves and milk vetch (Lee HJ et al 2005). A smoking cessation drug, Chantix™ (varenicline), is available by prescription.
- Increase intake of citrus fruits and tomatoes, which are high in beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, alpha-carotene, and lutein (Mannisto S et al 2004; Yuan JM et al 2001; Knekt P et al 1999; Le ML et al 1993).
- With the approval of your physician, take aspirin regularly (Moysich KB et al 2002).
- Take folate and vitamin B12, which improve abnormal bronchial cell growth in smokers (Heimburger DC et al 1988).
- Consume green tea, whose polyphenols prevent DNA damage in lung cells exposed to oxidants from cigarette smoke.
- Test your home for radon gas.
High levels of alpha-tocopherol (50 mg), if taken during the early critical stages of lung cancer initiation, may prevent lung cancer development (Woodson K et al 1999). Alpha-tocopheryl succinate hinders the initiation and progression of lung cancer by preventing COX activity and by blocking inflammatory responses mediated by prostaglandin E2 (Lee E et al 2006).
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