A report published in the October, 2006 issue of the journal Cancer Research described the finding of researchers at the University of Arizona that a modified form of vitamin E significantly reduced the metastasis of mammary cancer in mice. The study is the first to demonstrate that the compound has a strong anticancer property when administered as a dietary supplement.
University of Arizona Department of Immunobiology Professor Emmanuel T. Akporiaye, PhD and colleagues used alpha-tocopheryloxyacetic acid (alpha-TEA), which is created when a hydroxyl chemical group found in alpha-tocopherol is replaced with acetic acid. The researchers administered mouse chow enhanced with a relatively high concentration of alpha-TEA on the same day that mice were injected with a rodent form of mammary cancer known to spread rapidly to the lung and bones. A control group received the same diet minus the compound. After 29 days on the diet, the average tumor volume of mice who received alpha-TEA was reduced by 6.7-fold compared to the control mice. Another experiment in which the mice were given alpha-TEA enhanced diets 11 days after tumor implantation found a 3.6-fold reduction. In both studies, mice who received alpha-TEA experienced a 4.8-fold reduction compared to controls in the amount of tumors that had spread to the lungs.
Alpha-TEA works by freeing pro-apoptotic proteins which cause cancer cells to self destruct. “Cell survival is maintained when pro-apoptotic proteins are confined, and these synthetic forms of vitamin E release them, pushing the cell into committing suicide,” Dr Akporiaye explained.
“We tried other ways of delivering different forms of the synthetic vitamin, such as by force feeding and injections, but found that one form, α-TEA, was more effective when incorporated into food, and that makes it much more clinically useful,” Dr Akporiaye observed. “These preliminary studies are very promising, and it could be that combining this synthetic vitamin E derivative with other anticancer treatments may offer the potential of both treating and preventing human breast cancer.“
Vitamin E is the term used to describe eight naturally occurring essential fat-soluble nutrients: alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocopherols plus a class of compounds related to vitamin E called alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocotrienols. Vitamin E from dietary sources may provide women with modest protection from breast cancer.
Vitamin E succinate, a derivative of fat-soluble vitamin E, has been shown to inhibit tumor cell growth in vitro and in vivo (Turley et al. 1997; Cameron et al. 2003). In estrogen receptor-negative human breast cancer cell lines vitamin E succinate, inhibited growth and induced cell death. Since vitamin E is considered the main chain breaking lipophilic antioxidant in plasma and tissue, its role as a potential chemopreventive agent and its use in the adjuvant treatment of aggressive human breast cancers appears reasonable. Those with estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancers should consider taking 800-1200 IU of vitamin E succinate a day. Vitamin E supplementation, 800 IU daily for 4 weeks, was shown to significantly reduce hot flashes in breast cancer survivors (Barton et al. 1998).
Tocotrienols elicit powerful anticancer properties, and studies have confirmed tocotrienol activity is much stronger than that of tocopherols (Schwenke et al. 2002).
Vitamin E fractions called tocotrienols are showing positive effects on human and animal physiological and biological functions. It must be noted here that alpha- tocopherol is known to be an important antioxidant. But, when combined with other parts of the vitamin, the benefits are significantly enhanced.
Tocotrienols have shown superior action in maintaining arterial health. This wonder nutrient is so effective because of its structure of double bonds in the isoprenoid side chain, making it a great scavenger of free radicals.