A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial evaluating the effects of vitamin E and selenium on arsenic-induced skin lesions in Bangladesh

J Occup Environ Med. 2005 Oct;47(10):1026-35. doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000183095.45050.97.


Objective: We sought to determine whether supplementation of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), selenium (L-selenomethionine), or their combination improves arsenical skin lesions.

Methods: A 2 x 2 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial among 121 men and women chronically exposed to arsenic in drinking water was conducted in rural Bangladesh. Participants were randomized to one of four treatment arms: vitamin E, selenium, vitamin E and selenium (combination), or placebo and were treated for 6 months.

Results: At baseline, the average skin lesion scores were 2.23, 2.26, and 2.63 and at follow-up, the average skin lesion scores went down to 2.00, 2.06, and 2.47 in those receiving vitamin E, selenium, and the combination, respectively.

Conclusions: Supplementation with vitamin E and selenium, either alone or in combination, slightly improved skin lesion status, although the improvement was not statistically significant.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Arsenic Poisoning / diagnosis*
  • Arsenic Poisoning / drug therapy*
  • Arsenic Poisoning / urine
  • Bangladesh
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanosis / chemically induced
  • Melanosis / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Selenium / therapeutic use*
  • Skin Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use*
  • Water Pollution, Chemical*
  • Water Supply


  • Vitamin E
  • Selenium