Vitamin E safe at recommended doses

04 February 2014

Return to Media Release Index

4 February 2014 - Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that is required for proper functioning of the human body, and is safe when used in accordance with Australian intake recommendations, the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) said today.
ASMI's comments follow the release of findings from a study, published in Science Translational Medicine, which showed lung cancer progression in mice which were genetically modified to be predisposed to fast-growing cancer and were given high doses of vitamin E.1

According to ASMI, the study findings should not detract from the importance of this essential nutrient for health, and consumers taking vitamin E supplements to meet dietary shortfalls should not be alarmed by the findings.

"Vitamins, minerals and supplements have a legitimate place in the wider health system and remain important for many people who use them regularly to prevent illness and improve health and wellbeing. Considering that the study was conducted in mice with induced cancer, we need to be careful about extrapolating results out to otherwise healthy humans," said Steve Scarff, ASMI Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director.
ASMI believes the study findings need to be interpreted with caution.

Firstly, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently evaluated and reaffirmed the safety for vitamin E, stating that it found adequate evidence that supplementation with vitamin E has little or no significant harms.2
Secondly, the findings are in conflict with a strong body of evidence which suggests that vitamin E can decrease the incidence of some cancers in humans including lung, prostate, stomach and gastrointestinal.3 Other studies have shown that supplementation with vitamin E and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) shrink/slow the growth of lung cancer tumours in mice.4

Consumers are encouraged to talk to a qualified healthcare professional who can provide advice on nutritional needs. As with all medications, it is important that consumers follow the label instructions and consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner if they have any concerns.
-ENDS-

About ASMI: The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak body representing sponsors of non-prescription medicines - over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines. Its members make up 85 per cent of the $4bn self care market. Membership totals 60 companies and ASMI members employ approximately 17,000 people with exports estimated at $600 million annually. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy. www.asmi.com.au

REFERENCES:
1. Volkan I. Sayin et al. Antioxidants accelerate lung cancer progression in mice. Science Translational Medicine 6. 221ra15 (2014). .
2. US Preventive Services Task Force. Available at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/draftrec2.htm (2013)
3. Braun L and Cohen M. Herbs & Natural Supplements. An Evidence-Based Guide. 3rd Ed. Churchill Livingstone / Elsevier (2010).
4. Sablina, A. A. et al. The antioxidant function of the p53 tumor suppressor. Nat Med 11, 1306-1313 (2005).

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Michelle Sollitt-Davis
PR Manager, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
M:0422 084 951 E: michelle@asmi.com.au