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Long-term intake of vitamin E may decrease lung disease risk

Published on

18 May 2010

A regular use of vitamin E supplement may reduce the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in women, suggests a new US study.

In the randomized controlled trial, researchers reviewed data compiled by the Women’s Health Study, a 10-year research initiative that ended in 2004 and focused on the effects of aspirin (100mg every other day) and vitamin E (600 IU every other day) on the prevention ofcardiovascular disease and cancer in nearly 40,000 women aged 45 years and older (1). Among a randomized sample of 38,270 women without self-reported history of chronic lung disease (CLD), there were 760 new reports of CLD diagnosis in the vitamin E group and 846 in the placebo group at the end of the study. The 10% decreased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in women who were given vitamin E was the same for smokers as for non-smokers. The supplements seemed to have no effect on asthma.

The researchers suggested that vitamin E could be used as part of a new preventive strategy against COPD in women. Further analysis is required to explore the way vitamin E effects lung tissue and function, they said.

COPD is a disease of the lungs in which the airways become narrowed. This leads to a limitation of the flow of air to and from the lungs causing shortness of breath. In contrast to asthma, the limitation of airflow is poorly reversible and usually gets progressively worse over time. COPD is most commonly caused by tobacco smoking. The oxidant/antioxidant balance in lung tissue is hypothesized to contribute to COPD risk; observational studies have consistently reported high antioxidant values as associated with lower risk of COPD and asthma.


  1. Agler A.H. et al. Randomized Vitamin E Supplementation and Risk of Chronic Lung Disease (CLD) in the Women’s Health Study. Presentation at the American Thoracic Society 2010 International Conference in New Orleans.

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