Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingPast studies have hinted that Vitamin E might help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, but a study released today shows that in people at greatest risk for heart problems, Vitamin E actually increased that risk.
After Jim Hill had a quadruple bypass he wanted to reduce his risk of more heart problems. He heard Vitamin E could help.
Jim Hill: “I was talking to the cardiologist and I was curious about Vitamin E, and there was no studies on it, but he said it wouldn't hurt for me to take it."
But a new study reveals Vitamin E may do more harm than good. Researchers looked at individuals over 55 with a history of heart problems, diabetes, or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Their findings are published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Eva Lonn, M.D., McMaster University: “In high-risk people Vitamin E does not prevent cardiovascular disease, namely heart attack and stroke, and it does not prevent cancer. Furthermore, we noticed an increased risk of heart failure, so there is a potential for harm in people receiving Vitamin E.”
Researchers from around the world conducted the Vitamin E study. They tracked the health of more than 9,000 high-risk patients, some for almost ten years. They compared those taking 400 international units of Vitamin E a day to those taking a placebo, or sugar pill. The results for those who took Vitamin E the longest were dramatic.
Dr. Eva Lonn: "We noticed actually a 40 percent increase in risk of hospital admission for heart failure.”
Researchers say doctors and patients need to re-think Vitamin E.
Dr.Eva Lonn: "There is often the belief, well even if it doesn't benefit you, it causes no harm. Now our study suggests that this assumption is not always correct.”
Jim was part of that study and felt relieved when he later learned that he was taking placebo. He now takes prescription medications for his heart health.
Dr. Eva Lonn: “All in all, things look pretty good, so carry on with the same medications.”
Dr. Lonn emphasizes that the patients in this study were taking high doses of Vitamin E, about 400 milligrams a day. She says people should still try to consume about 15 milligrams of Vitamin E each day, and that amount can easily be found in a balanced diet.