Vitamin E seems ineffective in stemming the onset of disease.
THE QUESTION In older people, memory problems are among the first signs that cognitive changes could be Alzheimer's-related rather than the result of normal aging. Might taking vitamin E slow the progression to outright Alzheimer's?
THIS STUDY randomly assigned 769 people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment to take vitamin E (2,000 IU), the Alzheimer's drug donepezil (Aricept) or a placebo daily. After three years, about 16 percent of the people in all three groups were diagnosed with likely or probable Alzheimer's.
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Supermarket Dining: 10 Smart Ways to Eat In (The Washington Post, Jan 12, 2005)
Putting a Healthy Spin On Processed Foods (The Washington Post, Jan 10, 2005)
A Weekly Shot of News and Notes (The Washington Post, Nov 23, 2004)
WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? People with the memory problems common during early Alzheimer's. An estimated 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's.
CAVEATS Pfizer and Eisai, which market Aricept, helped fund the study; eight of the authors reported receiving fees from the companies. DSM Nutritional Products donated the vitamin E used in the study. A study published online in November found that taking more than 400 IU a day of vitamin E for four to five years increased the risk of death by about 5 percent.
BOTTOM LINE Older people who show signs of cognitive impairment may want to talk with a doctor about an appropriate treatment; those taking vitamin E in hopes of preventing Alzheimer's may want to discuss the possible effects of this vitamin with a doctor.
FIND THIS STUDY June 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine; article available now at www.nejm.org.
LEARN MORE ABOUT Alzheimer's disease at www.alz.organd www.nia.nih.gov.
Lifestyle changes may prevent or reverse this disorder.
THE QUESTION When someone has a cluster of symptoms including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and high blood sugar levels, the condition is known as metabolic syndrome. This syndrome often leads to serious illness, including diabetes, a heart attack or a stroke. Might a diet and exercise regimen or diabetes medication prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome?