Lead author Ching-Shih Chen, a professor at The Ohio State University and an investigator in Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center, cautioned taking a typical vitamin E supplement wouldn't offer this same benefit for at least two reasons: The most affordable supplements are synthetic and based predominantly on a form of the vitamin that did not fight cancer as effectively in this study, and the human body can't absorb the high doses that appear to be required to achieve the anti-cancer effect.
"Our goal is to develop a safe pill at the right dose that people could take every day for cancer prevention," It takes time to optimize the formulation and the dose," Chen said in a statement.
Chen has filed an invention disclosure with the university, and Ohio State has filed a patent application for the agent.
The study, published in the journal Science Signaling, found vitamin E occurred in numerous forms based on their chemical structure, and the most commonly known form belongs to a variety calledtocopherols.
In this study, researchers showed that, of the tocopherols tested, the gamma form of tocopherol was the most potent anti-cancer form of the vitamin.
The scientists manipulated the structure of that vitamin E molecule and found the effectiveness of this new agent they created was 20-fold higher than the vitamin itself in cells, Chen said.