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Results of the Women's Health Study – Vitamin E in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer

Results of the Women's Health Study – Vitamin E in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer


Perhaps you've seen the headlines…

“Aspirin, vitamin E fail to prevent cancer in women, key study finds…Neither low-dose aspirin nor vitamin E supplements prevent cancer in women, and vitamin E also does little or nothing to prevent heart disease in them, according to results of a study released yesterday.” Associated Press

“ Not so fast! Vitamin E proves no cure-all. A new study shows that a popular supplement may have no particular effect on the health of women. Dr. Judith Reichman has details…” Newsweek

“Healthy Women Don't Need Aspirin, Vitamin E

Regular Aspirin or Vitamin E Doesn't Prevent Cancer, Heart Disease” Medical News Service


But the study's results show vitamin E is beneficial and protective!


Although Vitamin E was not found to be effective for the prevention of breast, lung, or colon cancer, or death due to cancer, Vitamin E was effective for reducing cardiovascular death and heart attacks in women.


This large study included about 40,000 women who received either the vitamin E or a placebo for 10 years. Women (aged 45 years or older) receiving the vitamin E experienced a significant 24% reduction of cardiovascular death.


However for older women, those affected most by cardiovascular disease, vitamin E was more effective. Vitamin E reduced all major cardiovascular events in women over 65 years of age by 26%, due to a 34% reduction in heart attacks and a 49% reduction in cardiovascular deaths.


Indeed, the data and results found vitamin E beneficial and protective. However, the researchers were testing mainly whether “vitamin E supplementation for 10 years decreased risks of major CVD (cardiovascular disease) and cancer in a large group of healthy women”. The researchers defined major CVD as a composite (total) of several events. In the total group of women for the composite of cardiovascular events, vitamin E was not effective compared with a placebo, at the 10 year time period. Because of this finding, the researchers concluded that, “the data doe not support recommending vitamin E supplementation for cardiovascular disease or cancer prevention amoung healthy women.” And the media mostly dismissed the positive and stated that vitamin E was found ineffective as a protective measure against cardiovascular disease.


Lee and others. JAMA, 2005: (294)56-65




Why was this study turned into a "Man Bites Dog" study?

Is there no news value in a study that confirms earlier research that vitamin e is beneficial for cardiovascular health and disease reduction?



Why didn't the media report, "… Vitamin E reduces Cardiovascular death by 49% ins older women" or “"itamin E reduces heart attack risk in older women"?

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