Recent news reports talk about the SELECT study and how Vitamin E may increase the risk of prostate cancer. Here is a link to the MSNBC report.
The SELECT study was kind of unique for a vitamin in that subjects were solicited throughout the country in urologist’s offices and the study was a double-blind, placebo controlled trial – the gold standard for determining the medical validity of a particular drug or substance.
It is very disappointing to me that there was a significant flaw in the design of the study; and so the conclusions drawn from the study are useless at best and damaging at worst. The damage happens when news outlets report the results and the public does not understand why the reports are wrong. And it is really hard for me to not think that this kind of thing happens on purpose.
If someone were to come to me and ask me to design a study looking at the potential benefit (or danger) of using Vitamin E, and they told me that they actually wanted the study to fail, meaning that they wanted to show that Vitamin E was useless, then I would use a synthetic form of vitamin E. And, in fact, I would only use the alpha form. I know this gets technical, but I think it is important to understand.
The synthetic form of vitamin E is probably only one-third as effective as the natural form. And Vitamin E has many components to it, and only using alpha tocopherol may be kind of like trying to make a cake, but only using flour. What about butter, eggs, milk, etc?
Many studies have clearly shown that a mixed-tocopherol, natural Vitamin E can be effective in many arenas, including cardiovascular health and immune function in regards to cancer.