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14/12/2004 - Regular users of vitamin E may be less likely
to die from Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS), compared with non-users, suggests new research.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative
disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord
resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy. It is estimated to
cause nearly two deaths per hundred thousand population annually,
more than from Huntington's disease or multiple sclerosis.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health studied
data from 957,740 individuals, aged 30 or older, who were participating
in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study II.
Information on vitamin use was collected when recruiting for
the study in 1982 and researchers followed up for ALS deaths
from 1989 to 1998.
Occasional use of vitamin E supplements appeared to have little
benefit but those using the supplements regularly for up to 10
years were 40 per cent less likely to die from the disease, report
the researchers in the November issue of the Annals of Neurology.
The risk was further reduced in regular users for 10 years
or more 62 per cent lower than in nonusers of vitamin E.
No significant associations were found for use of vitamin
C or multivitamins, they added.
"These results suggest that vitamin E supplementation
could have a role in ALS prevention," conclude the researchers.
The findings support the theory that oxidants play a key role
in the development of ALS. Earlier research found that increased
brain levels of vitamin E seem to delay the onset of ALS in lab
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