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Vitamin E may modify pneumonia risk in some older men

By Ryan Maass
Vitamin E was found to be beneficial for some healthier older men, and harmful for some less healthy older men. Photo by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay
Vitamin E was found to be beneficial for some healthier older men, and harmful for some less healthy older men. Photo by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

HELSINKI, Finland, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Vitamin E can have very different effects on modifying the risk of pneumonia in older men, depending on lifestyle choices, researchers from Finland found in a study.

According to scientists from the University of Helsinki, taking vitamin E supplements can increase the risk of pneumonia for over a quarter of older men who smoke and do not exercise, and reduce the risk for men who exercise and do not smoke.

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Authors of the study, which was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, say their findings dispute the common belief that vitamins have universal effects on consumers. Their research suggests lifestyle choices play a very important role in determining how the body reacts to certain supplements.

In the experiment, researchers focused on men between the ages of 50 and 69 years old, and studied the effect of vitamin E on the risk of pneumonia using a large randomized trial conducted in Finland between 1985 and 1993. The research team examined data from 29,133 participants, which included 898 cases of pneumonia.

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Vitamin E was found to increase the risk of pneumonia by 68 percent among men who had the highest exposure to smoke and did not exercise. By contrast, the same risk decreased by 69 percent among participants who had the least exposure to smoke and exercised.

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Researchers in the study concluded vitamin E should not be suggested for the general population for boosting immune system health, and further research is needed to verify its effects on non-smoking elderly men who exercise during their free time.

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