Daily High-Dose Vitamin E Might Delay Alzheimer's
Although study showed a small effect, experts note the nutrient doesn't attack underlying cause
Snyder said the findings are "certainly positive enough to warrant further research," but she'd like to see the study replicated with another set of patients. The patients in this study were nearly all male, so were not wholly representative of the general public.
Research also needs to be done to figure out why vitamin E helps Alzheimer's patients, both Snyder and Dysken said.
At this point, no one is sure how it helps slow mental decline. The vitamin E used in the study is a fat-soluble antioxidant, but "we don't have a cogent theory why that property should be positive in patients with Alzheimer's disease," Dysken said.
However, such research into treating Alzheimer's might not be as potentially beneficial as studies that focus on preventing the disease altogether, Dr. Denis Evans, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, wrote in an editorial that accompanied the study.
"This is an excellent trial, and it points out the limitations of finding ways to treat the disease," Evans said. "It's a reasonable argument for putting more emphasis on prevention. If you look at all trials of Alzheimer's disease, of which this is an example of one of the best, the treatment effects are real but they are also relatively small and they focus [only] on the symptoms of the disease."