Journal Article

Cancer-preventive activities of tocopherols and tocotrienols

Jihyeung Ju, Sonia C. Picinich, Zhihong Yang, Yang Zhao, Nanjoo Suh, Ah-Ng Kong and Chung S. Yang

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 31, issue 4, pages 533-542
Published in print April 2010 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online September 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Cancer-preventive activities of tocopherols and tocotrienols

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The cancer-preventive activity of vitamin E has been studied. Whereas some epidemiological studies have suggested a protective effect of vitamin E against cancer formation, many large-scale intervention studies with α-tocopherol (usually large doses) have not demonstrated a cancer-preventive effect. Studies on α-tocopherol in animal models also have not demonstrated robust cancer prevention effects. One possible explanation for the lack of demonstrable cancer-preventive effects is that high doses of α-tocopherol decrease the blood and tissue levels of δ-tocopherols. It has been suggested that γ-tocopherol, due to its strong anti-inflammatory and other activities, may be the more effective form of vitamin E in cancer prevention. Our recent results have demonstrated that a γ-tocopherol-rich mixture of tocopherols inhibits colon, prostate, mammary and lung tumorigenesis in animal models, suggesting that this mixture may have a high potential for applications in the prevention of human cancer. In this review, we discuss biochemical properties of tocopherols, results of possible cancer-preventive effects in humans and animal models and possible mechanisms involved in the inhibition of carcinogenesis. Based on this information, we propose that a γ-tocopherol-rich mixture of tocopherols is a very promising cancer-preventive agent and warrants extensive future research.

Journal Article.  8797 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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