—Study Involving 40,000 Healthy Women Confirms Safety of Vitamin E Supplements —
—24% Reduction in Cardiovascular Death Seen—
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 5, 2005 — The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) said today it was encouraged by the results of a new study involving nearly 40,000 healthy women—the longest and largest trial ever conducted on vitamin E—that found that vitamin E significantly reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease—the #1 killer of women in the United States.
The study, published in the July 6 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, also confirmed that vitamin E is safe, reporting that taking 600 IU of vitamin E supplements every other day did not increase total mortality in healthy women. In reaching the conclusion, the Women's Health Study (WHS) contradicts a recent meta-analysis that reviewed studies of people already ill with cancer, heart disease or other serious medical conditions.
"The benefits shown in this study are very encouraging and should come as welcome news to everyone," said Andrew Shao, Ph.D., CRN's vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs. "The data clearly show that vitamin E can help healthy women, especially older women. They can continue to take vitamin E with confidence and expect to derive substantial benefit."
WHS found a 24 percent reduction in cardiovascular deaths among the nearly 20,000 women who took vitamin E supplements over a 10-year period compared with the nearly 20,000 other study participants who were given placebo. For women 65 and over, the study reported that taking vitamin E supplements had an even greater positive effect. Among that population, there was a 49 percent reduction in cardiovascular death and a 34 percent reduction in heart attack.
Professor Maret Traber, Ph.D., a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and a leading expert on vitamin E, said the WHS offers exciting new information, particularly for older women who have a greater risk of heart disease. "Vitamin E has clear value in helping to reduce the risk of heart and other serious degenerative diseases," she said. "This is especially important for people who smoke, have high blood pressure, or who don't eat properly, habits which can leave them with inadequate levels of this essential vitamin."
The WHS findings are of particular importance because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women in the United States, killing more than 500,000 each year, twice as many as from cancer and more than the next six causes of death combined.
While the study's authors said it was "possible" the finding of decreased cardiovascular deaths could be "due to chance," they acknowledged that it was "significant" and deserved further study.
Dr. Shao noted that other previous studies of vitamin E had examined unhealthy populations and then incorrectly used the results to reach conclusions about the safety of vitamin E in healthy individuals. "The WHS should help dispel some of the dubious myths surrounding vitamin E," he said. "We hope these results will inspire other researchers to continue to study vitamin E and its potentially beneficial effects."
The WHS finding on safety is consistent with a recent review of scientific literature published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found vitamin E is safe at daily intakes of 1600 IU. (Vitamin E supplements most commonly contain 400 IU.)
"Most Americans don't get enough vitamin E from diet alone," Dr. Shao said. "Supplements fill that gap and provide higher levels of vitamin E that have been shown to be beneficial in promoting health and protecting against some diseases."
The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing dietary supplement industry ingredient suppliers and manufacturers. CRN members adhere to a strong code of ethics, comply with dosage limits and manufacture dietary supplements to high quality standards under good manufacturing practices. For more information on vitamin E visit the CRN website http://www.crnusa.org/vitaminEissafe.html.