Vitamin E may cut risk of some cancers

Studies suggests foods such as spinach, nuts ward off prostate, bladder cases

March 29, 2004|By Robyn Shelton | Robyn Shelton,ORLANDO SENTINEL

The vitamin E in an extra handful of nuts or serving of spinach each day may help cut the risk of bladder and prostate cancers, according to two separate studies presented yesterday in Orlando.

For the prostate, Finnish men who got more of the vitamin in their diets slashed their risk by as much as 53 percent. For the bladder, people in a Texas-based study had about a 40 percent reduction in risk whether they took vitamin E supplements or ate more foods that are rich in the nutrient.

Though the results are intriguing, scientists said additional research is needed to see if the vitamin truly protects against cancer. But they said it certainly wouldn't hurt to grab some snacks that are loaded with vitamin E.

"People need not be afraid to incorporate nuts and seeds into their diets," said John Radcliffe, a nutrition researcher from Texas Women's University in Houston, which was involved in the bladder cancer research. "For a long time, dietitians would not recommend them because they are high in fat. But half an ounce to an ounce of nuts and seeds daily" is fine.

The studies were released at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, which is being held this week at the Orange County Convention Center. The conference, which runs through Wednesday, is expected to draw about 12,000 researchers and medical professionals.

For many years, scientists have looked at vitamin E as a way to boost the body's defenses against cancer, possibly by reducing DNA damage that leads to the disease. But other studies haven't shown much of a benefit.

Scientists said yesterday that it is best to increase vitamin E intake naturally, through foods such as nuts, seeds, whole-grain breads, beans, peas and canola oil. These foods are rich in a particular form of vitamin E - called alpha-tocopherol - that is considered most helpful.

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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