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Randomized, placebo-controlled trial of dietary supplementation of α-tocopherol on mutagen sensitivity levels in melanoma patients: a pilot trial

Mahabir, S.; Coit, D.; Liebes, L.; Brady, M. S.; Lewis, J. J.; Roush, G.; Nestle, M.; Fry, D.; Berwick, M.*

Original Articles

We evaluated the effects of vitamin E (dl-α-tocopherol) on mutagen sensitivity levels in a randomized placebo-controlled pilot trial. In brief, a dietary supplement of 1000 mg/day vitamin E or a placebo was randomly administered for 3 months to melanoma outpatients clinically free of the disease. Plasma vitamin E and mutagen sensitivity levels were measured at baseline and at the end of the trial after 3 months. At baseline, we found no significant differences in plasma vitamin E and mutagen sensitivity levels between the two groups. We also measured dietary intake at baseline and found dietary vitamin E to be a poor predictor of plasma levels of vitamin E. After 3 months of supplementation, we found that plasma levels of α-tocopherol increased significantly (P = 0.0005) in the vitamin E compared to the placebo group. We also found a non-significant, but consistent decrease in plasma γ-tocopherol concentrations in the vitamin E supplemented compared to the placebo group. We did not find any significant difference between the vitamin E and placebo groups in mutagen sensitivity levels either at baseline or after 3 months of supplementation. We conclude that short term vitamin E supplementation, although it causes increased blood levels of α-tocopherol, does not provide protection against bleomycin-induced chromosome damage.

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA. Tel: (+1) 212 639 8357; Fax: (+1) 212 7173522; Email: berwick@mskcc.org (S. Mahabir and M. Berwick). Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA (D. Coitt, M. S. Grady and J. J. Lewis). Kaplan Cancer Center, New York University Medical Center, New York, New York 10010, USA (L. Liebes and D. Fay). Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, New York University, New York, New York 10012, USA (M. Nestle).

*To whom correspondence should be addressed, at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA

(Received 23 February 2001; accepted in revised form 29 June 2001)

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.