The role of vitamin E in the prevention of cancer: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Ann Saudi Med. Nov-Dec 2007;27(6):409-14. doi: 10.5144/0256-4947.2007.409.


Background: There are conflicting results in published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the role of vitamin E in the prevention of cancer. We conducted a meta-analysis of RCTs to evaluate the role of vitamin E in the prevention of cancer in adults.

Methods: We included RCTs in which the outcomes of the intake of vitamin E supplement alone or with other supplements were compared to a control group. The primary outcomes were total mortality, cancer mortality, total incidence of cancer, and incidence of lung, stomach, esophageal, pancreatic, prostate, breast and thyroid cancers. All identified trials were reviewed independently by the two reviewers to determine whether trials should be included or excluded. The quality of all included studies was scored independently by the two reviewers.

Results: Twelve studies, which included 167025 participants, met the inclusion criteria. There were no statistically significant differences in total mortality (relative risk, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.96-1.03) among the different groups of patients included in this meta-analysis. Vitamin E was associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer (relative risk, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.73-0.96, number needed to treat=500), but it did not reduce the incidence of any other types of cancer.

Conclusions: Vitamin E supplementation was not associated with a reduction in total mortality, cancer incidence, or cancer mortality, but it was associated with a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer. Vitamin E can be used in the prevention of prostate cancer in men who are at high risk of prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamin E