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Your Guide to Anti-Aging, Nutrition and Wellness
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Interviews->Knockout Interview
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Knockout Interview - Page 2

SS:  So did they figure out why beta-carotene supplementation was shown to increase cancer occurrence in that study with smokers?
CP:  It was not made clear from that study or any other studies why supplementation with beta-carotene alone did that, but it was interesting that the group that took both beta-carotene and vitamin E did not experience the same increased risk of cancer.  This aspect of that study gives us a clue that antioxidants work differently if they are given together at the same time.  So you see, they left this information out of their media announcements, and people are missing a very important piece of this puzzle.  In my opinion, they should have also mentioned findings from other studies showing that antioxidants work better when taken together, not just one of them in huge doses, because natural antioxidants have a way of complementing each other.  Antioxidants occur together naturally in foods and evidently there is a good reason for it.

SS:  Why was the unnatural, synthetic form of vitamin E used for so long?  Even today I see vitamins that have this.  Is the natural form that hard to find or that much more expensive?
CP:  Initially, I think that it was all that was available.  Finally, studies started looking at the effects of the various forms of natural vitamin E and some manufacturers got smarter and started using only the natural form of vitamin E, called mixed tocopherols.

SS:  How is this relevant to cancer risk?
CP:  Well, it may be relevant in more than one way.  For example, one member of the natural vitamin E family that was left out in the synthetic formulation, gamma-tocopherol, happens to be a particularly good protector of DNA, the cell genetic code, and it has additional cardiovascular benefits that alpha-tocopherol does not have.  Protecting DNA is an important way to reduce cancer risk.  I will explain this in detail later.  Not only was gamma-tocopherol left out in the synthetic formulations, but what’s worse is that when one takes in large doses of alpha-tocopherol (like 400 IU or more), it is very difficult for the body to absorb the other natural tocopherols that are contained in the diet, because they compete with each other.  Alpha-tocopherol acts kind of like a bully pushing around its brothers, the other natural tocopherols, so they have a very hard time getting in the bloodstream, where they are needed.  Also, when you supplement exclusively with alpha-tocopherol, you can create a deficiency of other vitamin E forms in the body.  This was a very disturbing revelation to me.

SS:  So a nutritional supplement can take away your chance of absorbing other nutrients from food if that particular supplement is not balanced as nature would have it.  What should we look for on the label of a supplement that contains vitamin E?
CP:  Look at the label to see if it contains vitamin E as “mixed tocopherols”.  If a supplement contains “mixed tocotrienols”, that is also beneficial because they are another natural form of vitamin E, although not as prevalent in common foods or regular multivitamin formulations. Tocotrienols are best absorbed when they are taken at a separate time of the day from the common form of Vitamin E (the tocopherols).

SS:  Is the tocotrienol form of vitamin E important for all of us to take?
CP:  Research done with special forms of tocotrienols have shown that it can mildly reduce cholesterol synthesis in the body, and there are encouraging studies showing that it can reduce risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer.  It does this by depriving cancer cells of a compound they need for fast proliferation, called mevalonate. This is made in the body on the same pathway where cholesterol is made.  By the way, lycopene found in tomatoes and watermelon was found to do this, too.  Researchers believe that the way lycopene reduces cancer development is by reducing cholesterol and mevalonate availability inside the prostate cells and possibly other cells.

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