Nutrition Business Journal

Vitamin E, Selenium May Not Help Prevent Cancer

Vitamin E and selenium may not prevent prostate cancer, according to a recent study funded by the National Cancer Institute.


The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) was the largest-ever prostate prevention trial. The study selected over 35,000 men and found that vitamin E and selenium did not prevent prostate cancer when taken alone or together. The study actually found a small, “but not statistically significant” increase in the number of prostate cancer cases among those men taking only vitamin E.

SELECT was initially undertaken to substantiate earlier findings which showed that vitamin E and selenium may actually prevent cancers. Eric Klein, co-chair for SELECT and physician at the Cleveland Clinic commented on the study, “SELECT was always designed as a study that would answer more than a single question about prostate cancer, as we continue to monitor the health of these 35,000 men, this information may help us understand why two nutrients that showed strong initial evidence to be able to prevent prostate cancer did not do so.”

These findings certainly have to come as a disappointment to vitamin E manufacturers. Vitamin E sales have been on the decline for the past 8 years. According to NBJ estimates, vitamin E sales peaked in 1999 at $868 million. The U.S. consumer market fell another 4% to $391 million in 2007. More information can be found at the National Cancer Institute.

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