The effect of Vitamin E on Pneumonia in older male smokers

Emobileclinic Researchers Corner



The Clinical Interventions in Aging Journal has published the work of a Scientist from University of Helsinki, Finland who found that the daily use of 50 mg of vitamin E reduced the risk of pneumonia in elderly male smokers by 72% after quitting smoking.

Dr. Harri Hemila focused on whether vitamin E supplementation might influence the risk of community-acquired pneumonia. He adopted and analyzed data of the randomized trial (Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention [ATBC] Study) which was conducted in Finland between1985-1993 and included male smokers aged from 50 to 69 years.

The study found that the age when the participant had started smoking immensely regulated the effect of vitamin E on pneumonia. For instance, Vitamin E reduced the risk of pneumonia by 35% in 7,469 participants who had started smoking at a later age from 21 years or older, whereas the vitamin had no visible effect on pneumonia for those who had started to smoke at a younger age.

Among the 7,469 participants who began smoking at a later age, vitamin E supplementation lowered the incidence of pneumonia by 69% in a subgroup of 2,216 light smokers who exercised in their leisure time. In this subgroup, vitamin E averted pneumonia in 12.9% of the participants at 74 years, which implies that one in eight getting a benefit from the vitamin. The vitamin had no significant effect on participants who smoked heavily or had not been taking exercise.

One-third of the 7,469 participants stopped smoking for a period and 27 of them developed pneumonia. These 27 cases of pneumonia could formed the basis to estimate the effect of vitamin E on currently nonsmoking males. The incidence of pneumonia was 72% reduced in the vitamin E participants who had stopped smoking and this benefit from vitamin E was also seen among those who smoked heavily or did not exercise.

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He states clearly “thus, even though the 72% decrease in pneumonia risk with vitamin E in ATBC participants who quit smoking may be a real effect, it should not be generalized to current elderly males in Western countries. Further research on vitamin E in nonsmoking elderly males is warranted”.





Harri Hemilä (2016): Vitamin E administration may decrease the incidence of pneumonia in elderly males, Clinical Interventions in Aging, doi: 10.2147/CIA.S114515,

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