Alpha, Beta and Gamma Tocopherol forms of Vitamin E may lower lung cancer risk

August 22, 2008

     A study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center evaluated the effect of the four different tocopherol versions of Vitamin E; alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocopherols, on lung cancer risk. Classically only the alpha-tocopherol fraction of Vitamin E was studied. However, over the last few years the lesser known fractions have increasingly been the subject of scientific research.
     The current study compared 1,088 lung cancer patients with 1,414 age and smoking status-matched healthy controls. Dietary questionnaire responses concerning the year prior to cancer diagnosis or study enrollment were used to calculate individual tocopherol intake.
     Lung cancer patients had a lower body mass index and were more likely to have a history of emphysema, the cancer-free group was likelier to be better educated and use multivitamin/mineral supplements. Increased intake of alpha, beta and gamma-tocopherols was found to be associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer. When those whose alpha-tocopherol intake levels were among the highest 25 percent of all subjects' intakes were compared with those whose intake was in the lowest 25 percent, a 61 percent reduction in lung cancer risk was observed. For both beta-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol, subjects whose intake was highest experienced a 44 percent lower risk compared to the lowest intake groups, however, this association that was reduced in a secondary model adjusted for intake of the other tocopherols and vitamin C. The study is published in the September 1, 2008 issue of the International Journal of Cancer.