A new study by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA has been looking into the effects of vitamin E on cancer risk — both overall, and in relation to specific forms of cancer — and asking what factors might influence that effect.
The researchers analyzed the data from the Women’s Health Study (WHS), which looked at the “benefits and risks of low-dose aspirin and vitamin E in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer” in thousands of women from the U.S.Additionally, the researchers took into account the Women’s Genome Health Study, which allowed them to access relevant information about WHS participants’ genetic makeup.
Finally, the researchers verified their findings through the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study, which also looked into the effects of vitamin E on cancer risk.
The researchers found that certain variations in a gene called “COMT” were responsible for vitamin E’s impact on the risk of cancer — whether it decreased or increased it for an individual.
They noted that in the 10 years of the study and the 10 years following it, the women with the met/met variant of COMT who took vitamin E supplements had 14 percent lower cancer rates than women with the met/met allele who took a placebo.
At the same time, participants with the val/val variant of COMT who took vitamin E supplements had 15 percent higher cancer rates compared with participants with the same genetic variant who took a placebo.
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