FEATURED , Genetics , Genetic Testing

Peter D. Beitsch, MD/

Why does Vitamin E appear to offer cancer protection for some but worsen the risk for others?

This is an interesting analysis, as it has always bothered me that Vitamin E supplements appear to be cancer-protective in some studies and possibly harmful in others.  A new study, " What dictates how vitamin E supplements affect cancer risk?” published in Healthline/Medical News Today shows that both outcomes are a possibility and also explains why.

Breast cancer risk with vitamin e

Shockingly the answer was in a genetic variation of different forms of a gene called COMT which metabolizes Vitamin E.  Those variations are referred to as val and met.  Since we all have 2 copies of this gene, there are 3 variations:

  1. val/val - where Vitamin E is beneficial, showing 15% less cancer, including breast cancer
  2. met/met - where Vitamin E is harmful, showing 15% more cancer, inclusive of breast
  3. val/met - where Vitamin E is  neutral for breast cancer as well as others

Depending on your genetic composition of COMT, you may receive a protective benefit from Vitamin E, a neutral effect, or actually become at higher risk of cancer from Vitamin E.  Once again, genetics will change everything, even how we view confusing supplements like Vitamin E.

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