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Vitamins E and C Block Gene Involved in Prostate Cancer

BACKGROUND: Cells eventually die in a normal process called apoptosis. In prostate cancer cells, the survivin gene programs for the manufacture of survivin protein, which prevents apoptosis. Some potential treatments for prostate cancer involve suppressing activity of the survivin gene.

RESEARCH: Researchers tested the effects of vitamins E and C on both hormone responsive and non hormone responsive types of human prostate cancer cells.

RESULTS: Treatment with the highest concentrations of vitamin E led to a 75 percent reduction in prostate cancer cell growth over three days. In contrast, vitamin C resulted in only a maximum 9 percent reduction in growth of prostate cancer cells, regardless of the concentration of vitamin C. However, the highest concentration of both vitamin C and vitamin E led to a 78 percent reduction in prostate cancer cell growth. In addition, the vitamin combination significantly inhibited the activity of the survivin gene and production of survivin protein.

IMPLICATIONS: This cell study provides a partial genetic explanation of how vitamin E may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In fact, several clinical trials have confirmed that vitamin E supplements reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Gunawardena K, Campbell LD, Meikle AW. Combination therapy with vitamins C plus E inhibits survivin and human prostate cancer cell growth. The Prostate, 2004;59:319-327.

Veris, Research Alert, November 2004

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