An elusive anti-cancer element of vitamin E—known as natural tocopherols—has been identified by researchers at The Ohio State University as being able to deactivate an enzyme essential for cancer cell survival.
Although both alpha and gamma forms of natural tocopherols worked, the gamma was the most potent in shutting down the troublesome enzyme. Through manipulating the structure of the gamma molecule, the scientists were able to create an agent 20 times more effective than the original vitamin. In mice, this agent reduced the size of prostate cancer tumors.
Over-the-counter vitamin E supplements are limited because many use synthetic forms that do not contain the natural gamma tocopherols. The study’s authors, led by Ching-Shih Chen, Ph.D., note that the human body cannot absorb the high dosages of natural vitamin E required to achieve the anti-cancer effect; their goal is to develop a safe pill that could be taken daily for cancer prevention.