Vitamin E is a vital cancer fighter

Vitamin E is vital for helping boost your immune system—and it’s an essential nutrient if you’re fighting cancer.

The nutrient blocks tumours from spreading and primes our ‘killer’ T cells to fight the cancer.

It’s important to take vitamin E supplements if you’re using immunotherapy to fight your cancer, say researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, although similar benefits haven’t been seen in cancer patients who are instead being given chemotherapy.

Patients with melanoma, or skin cancer, had “significantly improved” survival rates compared to others who weren’t taking vitamin E or multivitamins, and the results were repeated in patients with breast, colon and kidney cancers.  But only those patients being treated with immunotherapy benefited; the nutrient didn’t help patients who were taking chemotherapy.

The researchers believe the vitamin helps mobilise the immune system’s dendritic cells, which manage abnormal proteins and make them accessible to our T cells.  However, dendritic cells that specifically manage tumour cells can stop functioning properly and levels can also lower because of chemotherapy treatment.

In some of their tests, the researchers found that cancer patients with low levels of dendritic cells didn’t respond to vitamin E supplementation.

Aside from supplements, foods rich in the vitamin include nuts, spinach, asparagus, mango and avocado.

(Source: Cancer Discovery, 2022; doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-0900)

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