Vitamin E is well known as an antioxidant, with 8 natural isoforms, such as α-, β-, γ- and δ-tocopherols and α-, β-, γ- and δ-tocotrienols. It has been suggested that both tocopherols and tocotrienols have anti-tumor effects due to the antioxidant effect. The results of several studies have indicated that the tocotrienols may have a stronger bioactivity than the tocopherols. Both types have shown antiproliferative, proapoptotic and cyclooxygenase-2- inhibiting effects in in vitro studies. Several animal studies have demonstrated that vitamin E has cancer-preventing effects. However, clinical trials have not shown similar results for the cancer prevention effect of tocopherol. Although the Linxian Trials demonstrated that the supplementation of β-carotene, α-tocopherol and selenium reduced cancer risk, the beneficial effects of α- tocopherol on prostate cancer disappeared after several years in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study. Vitamin E, especially tocotrienols, seems to be a potent agent for cancer prevention, however no large-scale clinical trial on the cancer prevention effect of tocotrienols has been conducted yet. Therefore it is expected that clinical trials overcoming the lower bioavailability of tocotrienols will be conducted, and it is urgently needed to assess the safety and the efficacy of the administration of the tocotrienols as a part of a cancer prevention regimen.
Keywords: Bioavailability, cancer prevention, clinical trials, tocopherols, tocotrienols, vitamin E, α, β-, γ- and δ-tocopherols, α, β-, γ and δ-tocotrienols, vitamin E has cancer-preventing effects, Linxian Trials, prostate cancer, cancer prevention regimen
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