Vitamin E administration may decrease the incidence of pneumonia in elderly males
Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Background: Vitamin E has influenced the immune system in laboratory studies. Dozens of animal experiments have found that vitamin E offered protection against infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Previously, significant heterogeneity was found in the effect of vitamin E supplementation on pneumonia in humans. The aim of this study was to examine how the effect of vitamin E on pneumonia risk depends on age.
Methods: Secondary analysis of the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention study in Finland, 1985–1993, was performed. Participants were male smokers aged 50–69 years at the baseline who started to smoke at ≥21 years (N=7,469). Intervention was 50 mg/d of vitamin E for 5–8 years. The outcome was the incidence of hospital-treated, community-acquired pneumonia by the age at the follow-up.
Results: Among 2,216 participants who smoked 5–19 cigarettes per day at baseline and exercised at leisure time, vitamin E supplementation reduced the incidence of pneumonia by 69% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 43%–83%; 57 pneumonia cases). In this subgroup, vitamin E prevented pneumonia in 12.9% of participants by the age of 74 years. Among 5,253 participants who smoked ≥20 cigarettes per day at baseline or did not exercise, the incidence of pneumonia was 14% lower in the vitamin E participants (95% CI: -38% to +21%; 139 cases). One-third of the participants quit smoking for a period, of whom 27 got pneumonia. The incidence of pneumonia was 72% (95% CI: 31%–89%) lower in the vitamin E group, and this benefit was also seen among those males who smoked ≥20 cigarettes per day at baseline or did not exercise.
Conclusion: Although the evidence of benefit from vitamin E against pneumonia in elderly males is strong in this analysis, the overall findings about vitamin E have been complex. Further research on vitamin E in nonsmoking elderly males is warranted.
Trial registration: NCT00342992.
Keywords: antioxidants, exercise, randomized controlled trial, respiratory tract infections, smoking
This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.Download Article [PDF] View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]