A re-examination of a Finnish study shows that Vitamin E protects against at least two common forms of cancer -prostate and bladder - but using supplements is probably not the best way to get the vital nutrient, say researchers.
The researchers looked at data from 29,133 Finnish men aged between 50 and 69 taking part in a smoker's study. All gave blood at the beginning of the study and then took vitamins to see whether the supplements might prevent various forms of cancer.
The original study is best known for showing that smokers who took beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, actually had higher rates of lung cancer.
The same data, however, has now been found to also show that people who either ate the most vitamin E containing food or who had the highest levels in the blood were the least likely to have cancer.
In this new examination of the Finnish data, presented to the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research in Orlando, Florida, Stephanie Weinstein of the U.S. National Cancer Institute and colleagues found men with the most vitamin E in their systems had the lowest risk of prostate cancer.
But the researchers also noted that there are several different forms of vitamin E and the kind you eat - in this case alpha tocopherol -is key. And the best-absorbed form of alpha tocopherol is not found in supplements, but in foods such as sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds and sweet peppers.