Vitamin E and Prostate CancerA new study that was performed to find whether or not vitamin E reduces the threat of prostate cancer in men has found that too much vitamin E can actually increase a man’s chance of developing this form of cancer. The study looked at men who consumed supplements consisting of 400 IU (international units) of the vitamin each day compared to another group of men who were given a daily placebo pill. The researchers found that the men that took the vitamin E supplements had a 17% higher chance of developing this type of cancer than the control group over a seven-year period.  The daily amount of vitamin E recommended for adult males is 22.4 IU.

Based on the findings, researchers suggest that taking vitamin E supplements is not necessarily beneficial and may in fact be harmful for men. Very few adults suffer from a vitamin E deficiency as the vitamin is readily absorbed by the body from a wide range of foods. The vitamin’s purpose is to guard cell membranes from free radicals that may cause damage — a function which would certainly lead researchers to believe that vitamin E has cancer fighting powers. However, other studies have found that increased intake of vitamin E is not effective at decreasing a person’s risk of colon cancer, lung cancer, stroke, heart attack, or even death when taken.

In the study, for every thousand men that took vitamin E supplements, 76 develop prostate cancer over the seven-year period. For every thousand men who took placebos, only 65 develop prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer: A Leading Type of Cancer among US Men

For men in the US, the most common type of cancer is prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 242,000 US men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012. Of those over 28,000 men will die. Over the course of a man’s lifetime, he has about a one in six chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Most men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are age 65 or older. It is very rare for prostate cancer to develop in a man younger than 40 years old. Behind lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men.