The cancer preventive activity of vitamin E has been suggested by many epidemiologic studies. However, several recent large-scale human trials with α-tocopherol, the most commonly recognized and used form of vitamin E, failed to show a cancer preventive effect. The recently finished follow-up of the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) even showed higher prostate cancer incidence in subjects who took α-tocopherol supplementation. The scientific community and the general public are faced with a question: “Does vitamin E prevent or promote cancer?” Our recent results in animal models have shown the cancer preventive activity of γ- and δ-tocopherols as well as a naturally occurring mixture of tocopherols, and the lack of cancer preventive activity by α-tocopherol. On the basis of these results as well as information from the literature, we suggest that vitamin E, as ingested in the diet or in supplements that are rich in γ- and δ-tocopherols, is cancer preventive; whereas supplementation with high doses of α-tocopherol is not. Cancer Prev Res; 1–5. ©2012 AACR.
- Received January 27, 2012.
- Revision received March 2, 2012.
- Accepted March 16, 2012.
- ©2012 American Association for Cancer Research.