Vitamin E Could Protect Against Liver Cancer: Study

Vitamin E -- found in foods like vegetable oil, nuts, mango, broccoli and spinach -- could have protective effects against liver cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that the more vitamin E a person consumed -- whether from a supplement, or from foods -- the lower his or her risk of liver cancer.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, included 132,837 people in China who were part of the Shanghai Women's Health Study or the Shanghai Men's Health Study. The researchers analyzed their diets and vitamin E intake using questionnaires.

About 10 years later, researchers followed up with the study participants to find that 267 of them had developed liver cancer. They found that link between the more vitamin E consumed, and the lower risk of liver cancer. And the results held true even among people who had a family history of liver cancer, or who had had liver disease in the past.

However, men who took multivitamins or vitamin C supplements actually were shown to have an increased risk of liver cancer in the study.

It's important to note that there are different kinds of vitamin E. This particular study looked at the effects of all types of vitamin E on liver cancer risk. But past studies have made some differentiations between the kind of vitamin E and cancer risk -- some types have been shown in research to lower the risk of cancer, while others have been shown to raise it.

For example, a study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research published earlier this year showed that two forms of vitamin E -- called gamma-tocopherols and delta-tocopherols, which are found in corn, soybean and canola oils -- could help to stop cancer from growing in mice. However, the researchers didn't find that the alpha-tocopherol kind of vitamin E -- which is often found in supplements -- had any protective effects.

The researcher of that study, Chung S. Yang, director of the Center for Cancer Prevention Research at Rutgers, added that another past study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research shows that the delta-tocopheral vitamin E form stops colon cancer development in rats more so than other kinds of vitamin E.

Plus, a study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that men who take vitamin E supplements could actually have a 17 percent increased risk of prostate cancer, HuffPost's Catherine Pearson reported.

Right now, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says there is not enough evidence to recommend taking vitamin E supplements for the purposes of preventing heart disease or cancer.

For information on how much vitamin E you should be getting in your diet, click here.

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