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Vitamin E May Lower Women's Lung Disease Risk

Study Finds Slight Reduction in COPD Risk in Women Who Regularly Take Vitamin E Supplements

Vitamin E and Men's COPD Risk continued...

She and her colleagues looked at data from the SELECT Trial (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial), originally set up to look at the effects of those supplements on cancer.

More than 35,000 men participated, and their median age was 62.4 (half younger, half older). Some of the men took 400 IU of vitamin E a day, with or without 200 micrograms a day of selenium, and were compared to those taking placebo. They were followed for four to more than seven years.

Neither selenium nor vitamin E, alone or in combination, made a difference in preventing COPD, the researchers found, compared to placebo.

Vitamin E and the Gender Difference

Exactly why vitamin E reduced the COPD risk in women but not men is not known.

But Agler suggests that it might be related to the fact that cells in the lung are believed to take up vitamin E preferentially from HDL or "good" cholesterol" -- and that ''women tend to have higher HDL than men."

Vitamin E and COPD: Second Opinion

The COPD risk reduction of 10% found in women is termed "slight" by Chris Slatore, MD, an assistant professor of pulmonology at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and the Portland VA Medical Center and an investigator at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. He was not involved in either study but reviewed the findings for WebMD.

Still, he says, the reduction is worthwhile enough to pursue the research.

In his own research, he has found that increasing vitamin E is associated with a slightly increased risk of lung cancer. "There might be a risk of vitamin E for lung cancer, and we definitely did not see a benefit as far as protecting from lung cancer," he says.

The results from the new women's study on vitamin E, he says, "wouldn't convince me that vitamin E reduces the risk of COPD enough to take it."

Vitamin E: How Much Is Enough?

For people aged 14 and older, the Recommended Dietary Allowance of RDA is 22.4 IU, with 1,500 IU a day considered a maximum safe level.

Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables are sources of vitamin E.

Besides acting as an antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in immune system functioning and signaling between cells and other processes in the body.

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