Vitamin E may increase the life expectancy of restricted groups of men

January 20, 2011

Depending on the level of smoking and dietary vitamin C intake, vitamin E supplementation may extend the life-span of restricted groups of men, according to a study published in the Age and Ageing.

Several large randomized trials of humans found that vitamin E supplementation does not reduce mortality. However, the average effect on mortality in a group of people with a wide age range may mask an effect of vitamin E on the life-span.

Dr. Harri Hemila, and Professor Jaakko Kaprio, of the University of Helsinki, Finland, studied the age-dependency of vitamin E effect on mortality in the large (Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study) which was conducted in Finland between 1985-1993. Their study was restricted to follow-up period over 65 years and 10,837 participants contributed to the analysis.

Among all analyzed participants, vitamin E had no effect on mortality when participants were 65 to 70 years old, but reduced mortality by 24% when participants were 71 or older.

Among 2,284 men with dietary intake above the median who smoked less than a pack of cigarettes per day, vitamin E extended life-span by two years at the upper limit of the follow-up age span. In the other participants, consisting of 80% of the cohort, vitamin E did not affect mortality, which shows that vitamin E is no panacea for extending .

The researchers concluded that "if vitamin E influences the life-span, it is possible that a benefit on the oldest participants might be camouflaged by the large middle-aged majority of study participants". Therefore, they propose that it might be useful to analyze the effect of supplementation in large controlled trials by the age of the participant at the follow-up and not just by the time after randomization that has been customary.

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