Researchers at two universities, Cornell and Harvard conducted a study that determined among women 45 years and beyond, the regular consumption of vitamin E decreased the risk of developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) also known as emphysema by approximately 10% in smokers and non-smokers


COPD is a major cause of lung disease and disability.  In the United States, it is the fourth leading cause of death.  Over 12 million people are currently have the disease.


The researchers believe vitamin E could be used as a component of a COPD prevention strategy. 


Anne Agler, lead researcher of the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University remarked, “As lung disease develops, damage occurs to sensitive tissues through several proposed processes, including inflammation and damage from free radicals.  Vitamin E May protect the lung against such damage.


She also noted that additional analysis is needed to determine the way vitamin E affects the lungs.  “If the results of this study are borne by further research, clinicians may recommend that women take vitamin E supplements to prevent COPD. “


While previous research found that a higher intake of vitamin E is associated with a lower risk of COPD, but did not determine if supplementation would lead to prevention of the disease.


Data from the Women’s Health Study, a multiyear research initiative that concluded in 2004, was reviewed. The evaluation focused on the effects of vitamin E (600 IU every other day)and aspirin (100mg every other day)) supplementation in the prevention of heart disease and cancer in 40,000 women over 45. This study involved a placebo and the women were randomly placed into each group.


“We tested the effect of vitamin E supplementation on risk of incident self reported MD diagnosis of chronic lung disease, defined as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and


Among the women without self reported history of chronic lung disease, there were 760 new reports of the diagnosis in the vitamin E group and 846 in the placebo group. 


An important find, according to the researchers was the reduction of the disease in both smokers and non-smoking women.


Source:  American Thoracic Society International