Liver cancer, as you probably know, is one of the deadliest kinds of cancer.
In fact, the survival rate five years after diagnosis is less than 15%.
So it’s obviously a health problem that you really want to avoid.
If you’re at high risk for it—due to, for example, obesity, current or past heavy alcohol use, family history or chronic hepatitis B or C—then you’ll want to pay extra special attention to this article.
Because there’s a new, all-natural way to help prevent the disease from developing (in addition to losing weight and cutting alcohol intake), according to new research.
A WONDER VITAMIN
Not only is it a simple measure, it’s also a delicious one…
For the study, US and Chinese researchers teamed up to ask more than 132,000 Chinese adults about their dietary habits, including how often they ate specific foods and consumed certain supplements. Then scientists zeroed in on different nutrients to see whether any was associated with reduced risk for liver cancer. They suspected that vitamin E might be, because it’s an antioxidant that’s known to help prevent the DNA damage that can lead to cancerous tumors—as well as boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Results: The researchers’ suspicions were correct. The more vitamin E the subjects consumed—from either foods or supplements—the less likely they were to get liver cancer. Those in the top 25% of vitamin E intake were 40% less likely to get liver cancer over 5.5 to 11 years than participants in the lowest 25% of intake. This held true after researchers controlled for major risk factors, such as body mass index, hepatitis and family history.
You might be thinking, Isn’t it possible that subjects who had high vitamin E intake also had high intake of other nutrients—and that perhaps those other nutrients are what prevented cancer? The researchers carefully investigated such a possibility, but found no “inverse association” with other nutrients.
It’s important to note that there are eight different forms of vitamin E. The research suggested that all types were associated with reduced liver cancer risk. However, the researchers noted that it is very difficult to separate the individual effect of each subtype of vitamin E intake in an observational study, so it’s possible that future research may show that certain subtypes are more protective than others.
HOW MUCH “E” DO YOU NEED?
These findings may make you think twice about what sort of fuel you put into your body—especially if you’re at high risk for liver cancer. So how much vitamin E should you be getting through foods and/or supplements to help ward off the deadly disease?
In the study, the top 25% individuals were consuming, on average, 21 milligrams (mg) to 26 mg of vitamin E each day, but some people consumed as much as 120 mg per day, so consumption was all over the map. The point to keep in mind is that, in general, the more people consumed, the lower their risk for liver cancer, said Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD, the principal investigator of the study
Doses up to 1,000 mg a day (1,500 IU) appear safe, according to the Institute of Medicine. Talk with your doctor to figure out the most appropriate dose for you, because some people should be more cautious than others. For example, people with heart disease or diabetes should be cautious about taking too much vitamin E. People on blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin or heparin, or who have vitamin K deficiency need to be careful too, because high doses of vitamin E can inhibit blood clotting and trigger excessive bleeding. Also, people on cholesterol medications or those receiving chemotherapy should consult their doctors because vitamin E may interfere with the effectiveness of the treatment.
EASY WAYS TO CONSUME MORE VITAMIN E
Vitamin E is in some foods—mainly certain nuts, oils and vegetables. For example, check out how much vitamin E these foods contain…
- Wheat germ oil (1 Tbsp = 20 mg)
- Sunflower seeds (about 3 Tbsp = 7.4 mg)
- Almonds (about 24 whole = 6.8 mg)
- Sunflower or safflower oil (1 Tbsp = approx 5 mg)
- Hazelnuts (about 18 to 20 whole = 4.3 mg)
- Peanut butter (2 Tbsp = 2.9 mg)
- Spinach (½ cup boiled = 2 mg)
Vitamin E supplements are another option, and they provide substantially more vitamin E than foods. For instance, a typical vitamin E supplement contains 400 international units (IU), the equivalent of about 264 mg.
All in all, this is hopeful news. Perhaps we now know what the “E” in vitamin “E” really stands for…effective way to ward off liver cancer!