Life Extension Update
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Rapid vitamin E loss in smokers may contribute to increased cancer incidence
Ten smokers and ten nonsmokers with similar diets were supplemented for six days with vitamin E. Blood samples were taken before, during and after the treatment period to measure vitamin E, vitamin C, uric acid, and isoprostanes, which are an indicator of free radical damage.
It was discovered that blood plasma levels of vitamin E declined 13 percent more rapidly among smokers compared to nonsmokers, while isoprostanes were on average 40 percent higher. The researchers also found a correlation between the reduction of vitamin E and plasma levels of vitamin C in smokers that was not observed in the nonsmoking group, suggesting that inadequate vitamin C levels hasten the depletion of E in this group.
Lead researcher Maret G.Traber explained that while vitamin E is frequently the initial antioxidant to intervene against free radicals, it can itself be made into a radical. However, the presence of a sufficient amount of vitamin C aids in transforming vitamin E back to a non-radical form. When vitamin C is lacking, tissue levels of vitamin E are rapidly depleted.
Dr Traber commented, "We've now shown this interaction among these two antioxidants in the human body for the first time, an important step forward. Smokers with the lowest vitamin C levels have the fastest disappearance of vitamin E. This is complex biochemistry, but it's part of our body's natural defense mechanism against toxins."
He added, "There has been practically a war going on in the science community for some time now about the value of vitamin E, but much of what gets lost in the debate is the distinction between preventing a serious disease and being able to cure it. Some people have the inaccurate notion that moderate supplementation with vitamin E will hurt you, and that simply is not true. What's increasingly clear is that many people have health habits, such as smoking or poor diet, which can leave them with inadequate levels of vitamin E. And vitamin E has clear value in helping to prevent serious degenerative disease."
Cancer adjuvant therapy
After examining 29,000 male smokers in Finland, researchers found that high blood levels of alpha-tocopherol reduced the incidence of lung cancer by approximately 19%. The relationship appears stronger among younger persons and among those with less cumulative smoke exposure. These findings suggest that high levels of alpha-tocopherol, if present during the early critical stages of tumorigenesis, may inhibit lung cancer development (Woodson et al. 1999).
A combination of vitamin E and pentoxifylline (PTX), a drug that inhibits abnormal platelet aggregation, allowing more blood to reach irradiated areas, resulted in a 50% regression of superficial radiation-induced fibrosis (the proliferation of fibrous connective tissue) in half of the patients studied (Gottlober et al. 1996; Delanian 1998). A suggested dosage is 800 mg a day of PTX and 1000 IU per day of vitamin E.
An anti-melanoma effect obtained from vitamin E succinate in vivo has been reported (Malafa et al. 2002).
Gamma-tocopherol inhibits COX-2 activity, demonstrating anti-inflammatory properties (Jiang et al. 2001).
The use of vitamin E, in combination with vitamins A and C, led to a four-fold reduction in p53 mutations (Brotzman et al. 1999). This is an extremely important finding because p53 mutations indicate a more malignant, aggressive form of cancer.
Men with a high intake of vitamin E are 65% less likely to develop colorectal adenomas (precursors to colon cancer) compared to men with low vitamin E intake (Tseng et al. 1996).
Lower morbidity and mortality from prostate cancer in men taking 50 mg of synthetic alpha-tocopherol daily. Subsequent testing determined gamma-tocopherol to be superior, however, to alpha-tocopherol in terms of tumor cell inhibition (Moyad et al. 1999). Men in the highest fifth of the distribution for gamma-tocopherol had a five-fold reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those in the lowest fifth. In addition, statistically significant protection from high levels of selenium and alpha-tocopherol occurred only when gamma-tocopherol concentrations were also high (Helzlsourer et al. 2000).
Tocotrienols, quite similar to a tocopherol (but for the addition of an unsaturated tail in its chemical structure), accumulate in adipose tissues, including mammary glands. If a cell becomes diseased, the tocotrienol is prepared for action, ready to inhibit growth and regulate aberrant cellular activity at onset. Curiously, the more cancerous the cell, the more susceptible it is to tocotrienols. Scientists apparently have been focusing upon the wrong form of vitamin E (the tocopherols), which show little protection against breast cancer. Tocotrienols appear to inhibit proliferation of human breast cancer cells by as much as 50% (Nesaretnam et al. 1998). Results suggest that tocotrienols are effective inhibitors of both estrogen receptor-negative and estrogen receptor-positive cells and that combination with tamoxifen should be considered as a possible improvement in breast cancer therapy. This strategy could significantly reduce the amount of tamoxifen required to affect the cancer (Guthrie et al. 1997).
Cortisol (associated with poorer survival) and IL-6 (a negative marker for various cancers) were significantly lower in laboratory animals that received alpha-tocopherol before a cortisol-IL-6 challenge (Webel et al. 1998).
The primary purpose of supplementing with vitamin E is to suppress damaging free radicals. Scientific studies have identified the gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E as being critical to human health.
Research shows that sesame lignans increase gamma-tocopherol levels in the body while reducing free radical damage. In response to these findings, Life Extension has reformulated the popular Gamma E Tocopherol supplement to replace tocotrienols with sesame lignans.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a white, crystalline, water-soluble substance found in citrus fruits and green vegetables. As an antioxidant, vitamin C scavenges free radicals in the body and protects tissues from oxidative stress. Physical stresses on the body such as ingestion of heavy metals, cigarette smoking, infections, extreme temperatures, and chronic use of certain medications such as aspirin also signal the need for increased intake of vitamin C.
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