The research suggests that the vitamin may help to stop the development of cancers in people suffering from a genetic disease that predisposes them to increased risk of cancers.
Led by Dr Charis Eng, from the Lerner Research Institute , USA, the researchers explained that several genetic mutations known to be present in Cowden Syndrome (CS) may be responsible for cancer development.
Writing in Clinical Cancer Research, Eng and his colleagues discovered that mutations in certain genes, responsible for energy production result in an accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that causes damage to cells and makes them more prone to becoming cancerous.
However, when vitamin E was applied to the cells with such mutations, ROS accumulation decreased, as well as the accompanying cellular damage.
"These findings support the notion that vitamin E may be useful as an anti-cancer therapeutic adjunct or preventive agent, especially for CS patients harboring SDH mutations, and its protective properties should be further explored," said Eng.
CS predisposes individuals to several types of cancers – an 85 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer, a 35 percent risk for epithelial thyroid cancer, and increased risk of other cancers as well.
Approximately one in 200,000 people are affected by CS.