Evidence is mounting that humble little vitamin E plays a big role in keeping women safe from breast cancer. Several recent studies have shown it can inhibit the metabolism of cancer cells, leading to their death.
This is excellent news for women wanting to protect themselves against a diagnosis of breast cancer, for those now being treated for the disease, and for those who have had breast cancer and want to avoid a recurrence.
How does vitamin E wield such power? Scientists around the world have concluded that breast cancer involves special tumor initiating cells which not only initiate the disease, but also speed the development of metastasis, therapeutic resistance, and relapse. Vitamin E comes to the rescue by destabilizing the mitochondria in those special cells, and making it so they cannot carry on metabolism, leading to their death.
In other words, each cell of the human body has a tiny furnace in it, known as the mitochondria, in which fuel (food) is burned to give energy to that cell. What vitamin E does is block that process in cancer cells. Without fuel, a cancerous cell soon dies of starvation, no matter what stage it is in.
According to one of the research teams investigating this process, vitamin E can “not only induce apoptosis at higher concentrations but also block proliferation and suppress normal mitochondrial function and transcription at low, non-apoptogenic doses.”
But before you buy a bottle of vitamin E, know that all vitamin E is not targeted to perform this action in the mitochondria. The research teams investigating these actions are using vitamin E succinate, a natural tocopherol. This form has four methyl groups on the 6-chromanol nucleus.
“…Finally, alpha-TOS cooperated with tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand in suppression of tumor growth in vivo. Vitamin E succinate is thus a potent and highly specific anticancer agent and/or adjuvant of considerable therapeutic potential.”
More Benefits from This Vitamin Superstar
Vitamin E is able to protect cholesterol from oxidation because it is a potent antioxidant that is fat soluble. When cholesterol becomes oxidized too many times, it can accumulate in blood vessels walls and create early stage atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries.
Vitamin E is mainly found in:
- Vegetables (especially green ones)
- Whole grains
- Plant oils
These foods are prominently featured in the Mediterranean Diet, the only diet to be documented as reducing mortality from all causes.
A study published in 2014 from the Gill Heart Institute at the University of Kentucky documented that eating the Mediterranean Diet can lead to a reduction in peripheral artery disease of a whopping 56 percent. Beneficial outcomes on insulin resistance and inflammation were also noted. But back to vitamin E specifically.
Vitamin E is actually composed of eight different compounds – four are tocopherols and four are tocotrienols. Each is found in some amount in the daily diet of most people.
The most well-known of this group is alpha-tocopherol. It is the form most commonly found as a supplement, probably because it is widely known to prevent free radical damage. Recently, the other tocopherols and tocotrienols have begun to be investigated; preliminary findings have suggested we may soon hear about more health benefits from vitamin E.
Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., author of 54 books on natural substances including Prescription Alternative, The Herb Bible, and the widely distributed Vitamin Bible, says vitamin E can:
- Keep you looking younger by retarding cellular aging due to oxidation
- Supply oxygen to the body to give it more endurance
- Protect lungs against air pollution by working with vitamin A
- Prevent and dissolve blood clots
- Alleviate fatigue
- Help to prevent various forms of cancer
- Help prevent scar formation externally and internally
- Accelerate healing of burns
- Work as a diuretic and lower blood pressure
- Help prevent miscarriages
- Help alleviate leg cramps and charley horses
- Lower risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke
- Decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease
The best way to increase vitamin E intake is to regularly include the foods that contain healthy amounts of it in your diet. This way you can get all eight of its forms and be sure it is digested and assimilated into your body.