Research: HEMILA and KAPRIO,

Listed in Issue 171


HEMILA and KAPRIO,  Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Finland.  researched the effect of vitamin E supplementation upon mortality in the Finnish Alpha-tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study of 1985-1993.


The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study (1985-1993) recruited 29,133 Finnish male cigarette smokers, finding that vitamin E supplementation had no overall effect on mortality.


The authors of this paper found that the effect of vitamin E on respiratory infections in ATBC Study participants was modified by age, smoking, and dietary vitamin C intake; therefore, they examined whether the effect of vitamin E supplementation on mortality is modified by the same variables.


During a median follow-up time of 6.1 years, 3,571 deaths occurred. Age and dietary vitamin C intake had a second-order interaction with vitamin E supplementation of 50 mg/day. Among participants with a dietary vitamin C intake above the median of 90 mg/day, vitamin E increased mortality among those aged 50-62 years by 19% (95% confidence interval: 5, 35), whereas vitamin E decreased mortality among those aged 66-69 years by 41% (95% CI: -56, -21). Vitamin E had no effect on participants who had a dietary vitamin C intake below the median. Smoking quantity did not modify the effect of vitamin E.


This study provides strong evidence that the effect of vitamin E supplementation on mortality varies between different population groups. Further study is needed to confirm this heterogeneity.


Hemila H and  Kaprio J. Modification of the effect of vitamin E supplementation on the mortality of male smokers by age and dietary vitamin C. American Journal of Epidemiology. 169(8): 946-53. NLM. PMC2661323. Apr 15 2009.

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