Which Form of Vitamin E Helps Prevent Prostate Cancer?

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There are eight different forms of vitamin E, and to help prevent prostate cancer—and other cancers as well—make sure you choose the correct ones: gamma-tocopherol and delta tocopherol. That’s the message from a research team at the Center for Cancer Prevention Research, at Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

Pick up a vitamin E supplement bottle and chances are the main—and perhaps only—form of vitamin E in the product is alpha-tocopherol. Yet alpha-tocopherol is not the most abundant form of vitamin E found in the diet, nor has it been shown to help prevent cancer. These two benefits are associated with another form of vitamin E.

In a new report, “Does Vitamin E Prevent or Promote Cancer?” Chung S. Yang, director of the Center, notes that “Our message is that the vitamin E form of gamma-tocopherols, the most abundant form of vitamin E in the American diet, and delta-tocopherols, also found in vegetable oils, are beneficial in preventing cancers while the form of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol, the most commonly used in vitamin E supplements, has no such benefit.” Examples of vegetable oils that contain gamma-tocopherols and delta-tocopherols include soy, corn, and canola oils.

Yang explains that animal studies for prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancers have shown that gamma-tocopherol and delta-tocopherol prevent the formation and growth of cancer. Thus men need to get the facts about vitamin E and prostate cancer prevention and make sure they choose vitamin E supplements that contain a high balance of gamma-tocopherol in relation to alpha-tocopherol, which works synergistically with the gamma form of vitamin E.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.


Yang CS et al. Does vitamin E prevent or promote cancer? Cancer Prevention Research 2012;5(5): 701-5