National Cheng Kung University says a joint study it conducted with Ohio State University has found vitamin E to have properties that can prevent and treat cancer.
The study was published in the March 19 issue of the journal Science Signaling.
In the study, which was conducted at the Ohio college, researchers showed that in prostate cancer cells, one form of vitamin E inhibits the activation of an enzyme that is essential for their survival. The loss of the enzyme, called Akt, led to tumor cell death, according to the results of the study.
“This is the first demonstration of a unique mechanism of how vitamin E can have some benefit in terms of cancer prevention and treatment,” said lead author Chen Ching-shih (陳慶士), a professor at both Ohio and Cheng Kung.
However, he said that taking typical vitamin E supplements will not offer these benefits for at least two reasons: Most of the vitamin E supplements available on the market are synthetic and based on a form of the vitamin that does not fight cancer as effectively as the type used in the study, while the body cannot absorb the high doses that appear to be required to achieve the anti-cancer effect.
“Our goal is to develop a safe pill at the right dose that people could take every day for cancer prevention,” he said.
Huang Po-hsien (黃柏憲), an assistant professor at National Cheng Kung University, said the scientists optimized the structure of vitamin E and found that the effectiveness of the new agent they created was 20 times higher than the vitamin itself.
The agent reduced the size of prostate cancer tumors in mice, he said, but added that human clinical trials have yet to be carried out.