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On Vitamin E: Kathy G and John H

Posted by Dorothy on 11/11/04 at 19:58 (163629)

I don't think the study was as infallible and not to be questioned as you both are indicating. Here is one news account that I could print easily. There are many. I'm not advocating for or against Vitamin E supplementation; I am advocating for intelligence. I appreciate John H very much but I don't think he is a scientist (Polar bear liver is not toxic to humans because of Vitamin E, for example, but because of Vitamin A...); neither am I, but I don't present information that I share as definitive or the last word. I suggest only caution and consideration, rather than rapid response. Much more will need to be done to corroborate or refute this most recent report on E. In the meantime, it's probably wise to keep your E in the low ranges, if at all, and keep your skeptical radar at high levels. What would really thrill me is if the Big Pharma stuff got the same kind of Red Alert Alarms as do alternative treatments. The article follows:

Study Cites Risks in High Doses of Vitamin E
For the aged and ill, the chance of dying is small, researchers say, but significant due to the supplement's broad use.
By Thomas H. Maugh II and Valerie Reitman
Times Staff Writers

November 11, 2004

High doses of vitamin E, often viewed as a panacea for cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, actually increase the risk of death slightly among the elderly and infirm, researchers said Wednesday.

A study found that the increased risk of death was small, about 5% for those who had taken larger doses of the vitamin for at least five years. But vitamin E is taken by so many people an estimated 25% of the American population that even a small increase is significant, the researchers said.

'People take vitamins because they believe it will benefit their health in the long term and prolong life,' said Dr. Edgar R. Miller III of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, a coauthor of the study. 'But our study shows that use of high-dose vitamin E supplements certainly did not prolong life, but was associated with a higher risk of death.'

Miller presented the results Wednesday at a New Orleans meeting of the American Heart Assn., and they were simultaneously published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

'Too often, in terms of the supplements, there's very scant science,' Dr. Raymond Gibbons of the Mayo Clinic told a news conference at the heart meeting. 'In this area, we have the science: Vitamin E doesn't work.'

But some scientists were skeptical of the results.

Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, noted that there was 'a disconnect' between large studies like this one and smaller studies that had shown a benefit from taking vitamin E.

Many of the people in the studies 'were older people and had preexisting diseases. It's hard to ascribe the bad outcomes to vitamin E, per se,' Heber said.

The results came from a so-called meta-analysis that combined data on 135,967 patients in 19 separate studies. The combined results indicated an increased risk for patients most of whom were over the age of 60 and suffering from heart disease or other illnesses who took more than 400 international units, or IU, of vitamin E each day.

The results said nothing about the effects of high doses in older people who were healthy or the effects in younger people. The study found no increased risk at doses below 200 IU, and possibly a slight benefit.

The typical vitamin E supplement contains 400 IU, although some contain as much as 1,000. Multivitamin supplements typically contain 30 to 60 IU.

Most people get about 6 to 10 IU of vitamin E per day from their diet, typically from vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts and corn.

Many people take supplements of the vitamin because it is an antioxidant that is thought to destroy oxygen radicals produced by chemical reactions gone awry within cells. Nutritional guidelines do not recommend vitamin E supplements and suggest a maximum daily dose of 1,500 IU.

Although the mechanism by which high doses of the supplement might cause damage is not clear, Miller speculated that the vitamin could suppress natural enzymes in the liver and increase the risk of bleeding.

Many cardiologists, as well as the American Heart Assn., recommend that patients not take vitamin E because previous studies have shown the supplements are not beneficial. The new findings seem likely to increase the urgency of such warnings.

Vitamin E manufacturers and proponents scoffed at the results.

John Hathcock, vice president of scientific affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement industry group, said the increased risk found by the study was 'driven by the results from just a few of these clinical trials, some of which are suspect and/or outdated.'

'This is an unfortunate misdirection of science … for the sake of headlines,' he said.

Leiner Health Products of Carson, which manufactures more than half of the private label vitamin E sold in the United States, dismissed the study as 'scientific folly.'

Leiner spokeswoman Crystal Wright said the company was 'pretty dismayed that a reputable university like Johns Hopkins would come out with something so misguided…. It scares people away from a vitamin that offers so many benefits for so many people.'

Re: On Vitamin E: Kathy G and John H

Ed Davis, DPM on 11/11/04 at 23:54 (163658)

See my response on the social board. The key question is: 'what kind of vitamin E was used in the study?'

Re: On Vitamin E: Kathy G and John H

john h on 11/12/04 at 10:27 (163696)

My wife has always been very fussy with which vitimin E she took and it was I think fish oil in a capsule. What ever it was she and her Doctor agreed was the best.

Re: On Vitamin E: Kathy G and John H

john h on 11/12/04 at 10:40 (163699)

Dorothy one only has two choices to either take vitimin E or not take vitimin E. I am not scientist or even close but given the two choices I mention on which side do I chose to come down on? There is no real proof that vitimin E will cure me of anything on its own. Now a reputable Medical School like John's Hopkins presents me with a study that says Vitimin E studues us associated with increased risk of stroke and heart problems. With my two choices available do I contine with Vitimin E or stop. To me this is a no brainer. I stop. If it were some drug like insulin that I had to stop taking that I needed to sustain life I would continue. To add to my decision my wife who has been using Vitimin E for 10 or more years has just suddenly developed a heart problem (two weeks ago) and is now on Warfin and a beta blocker for the rest of her life. Yes, I know there is no proof that the Vitimin E caused her problem but from her point of view she is now wondering did the Vitimin E cause it? I do not know and no one will ever know. When making a decision to take or not take a questionable product I for one error on the side of safety.

Re: On Vitamin E: Kathy G and John H

Ed Davis, DPM on 11/12/04 at 11:04 (163707)

I wish we could even say definitively we are talking about the same product-- that is where the confusion lies. There are seven different forms of viatmin E with different physiologic effects. I wish more information existed to differentiate those effects...

Re: On Vitamin E: Kathy G and John H

Kathy G on 11/12/04 at 16:42 (163735)

Thank you for the article, Dorothy. It certainly indicates that there is great controversy about this. The report I read said nothing about the ages of the people involved nor did it mention the types of Vitamin E, which as Ed says, are many.

I think I'll stick to my multivitamin but I won't toss out my Vitamin E until some more studies are done.

With all of this, don't you think you just have to choose someone to believe and go with it? As we all know, studies can be made to have the outcomes that the one wishes so unless they're longterm and double blind, no one really knows what to believe.

Re: On Vitamin E: Kathy G and John H

Dorothy on 11/12/04 at 16:46 (163737)

John H - And I think your decision-making process makes perfect sense and you have no argument from me. While you are not taking it, though, I hope (and believe you will because you are curious and smart) you will continue to read and watch for further information. Did you read Dr. Ed's post about the forms of Vitamin E? There is a lot that is not yet clear about this study and already flaws that are being pointed out. Beyond that, however, I think you are quite right - and in any case, I would never think anyone should do anything but what they think is right for them and their loved ones. That is stating the obvious.
I am really sorry that your wife has the heart problem that she recently discovered and I hope that the treatments she is using - and one hopes new ones yet to come - will take good care of her health and keep her well. We want you and anyone you love to be healthy and well!!

Re: On Vitamin E: Kathy G and John H

john h on 11/13/04 at 15:23 (163843)

I have been aware of the different forms of vitimin E. There are so many things that were supposed to be good for you that are now bad for you and things that were bad for you that are now good for you I have lost track. If I want a glass of wine I drink it. Since I cannot tell the diference between decaf and regular I do not care what they serve me as I do not drink a lot of coffee of soft drinks anyway. I never was very good at staying on a diet so I just play it by ear. Same with taking vitimins or supplements. I would try some but never stayed on any for any length of time. The only thing I seemed to have stuck with is Lipitor because of the dramatic effect it had on my cholesterol with such a small (10 mg) dose.I have always exercised and participated in sports becuase it is fun so I needed no effort to do this. You know I do not eat polar bear liver but when I was young many familes ate brains and eggs. You do not hear about that much anymore. Do not even know what kind of brains they were. Cow,pig,????? Must not have been any mad cow disease in those days.I never in my life heard of PF unitl I got it. Surely it has been around for some time. Maybe Podiatrist invented it when they changed from Chiropodist to Podiatrist.