The results of a seven year study examining the potential benefit of vitamin E in preventing cancer and heart disease in older patients with existing heart disease or diabetes found no benefit from taking the supplement. However it did show an increased risk of heart failure.
The original 4.5 years study, reported earlier, found no evidence that vitamin E is beneficial for heart disease patients. The study included approximately 9,500 patients, 55 years of age or older, with existing heart disease. Peripheral artery disease, previous stroke or diabetes assigned to a placebo or 400 IU per day of vitamin E.
Thinking that the treatment period may have been too short to show a benefit, researchers extended the study for 2.5 more years. Findings show that there were no significant differences between the vitamin E group and the placebo group in terms of cancer rate, cancer deaths, major cardiovascular events (heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes), or death from any cause.
However, researchers found that the risk of heart failure was higher in the vitamin E group than in the placebo group (14.7 percent versus 12.6 percent), as was the risk of hospitalization for heart failure (5.8 percent versus 4.2 percent).
These findings raise questions regarding the safety of large doses of vitamin E supplements in people with existing heart disease and diabetes. Further research is needed to clarify current recommendations.
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