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Vitamin E Lowers Breast Cancer Risk and Moderates Hot Flashes


Updated April 09, 2014

Vitamin E gelcaps

Vitamin E gelcaps

Karl D. Stephan

Vitamin E Gelcaps and Good Health:

Those golden gelcaps of vitamin E can help moderate your hot flash symptoms and lower your risk of developing breast cancer. After treatment for breast cancer, vitamin E can help build up your good health. Learn how much is safe to use, and when to stop using vitamin E.


Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin whose antioxidant properties may help prevent some types of cancer.

Primary Use:

The only medical condition for which vitamin E is definitely indicated is vitamin E deficiency, a rare condition that results in impaired nerve function.

Anti-Cancer Benefits:

Vitamin E is an effective antioxidant, which means it can reduce the activity of certain harmful chemicals in the body called free radicals. Since free radicals can lead to cancer, there is reason to believe that antioxidants help reduce the risk of cancer incidence, and may help the body's immune system fight cancer recurrence. The medical community is divided on the question of whether and how much vitamin E actually helps prevent cancer or recurrences of malignancy, despite numerous studies. Excessive amounts of vitamin E ("megadoses") can cause bleeding and are not recommended.

Help with Hot Flashes Due to Low Estrogen Levels:

Vitamin E can help moderate hot flash symptoms, if taken in 400 international units (IUs) daily.

Also known as:

tocopherol (toe KOF er all). There are several types of vitamin E. The most active type of vitamin E is alpha-tocopherol, which is a very effective antioxidant.

Available as:

Generic vitamin supplements (gel caps), as an oil, and as a food additive. Vitamin E also occurs naturally in many types of vegetable oil such as wheat germ, sunflower, peanut, and soybean oil. No prescription is needed.
But if you’re in chemotherapy for breast cancer, vitamin E might cancel out the benefits of chemo, so tell your oncologist which vitamins you take, before treatment starts.


The Recommended Daily Amount of vitamin E is 15 mg (milligrams)/day, according to the U. S. Dietary Reference Intake guidelines. Taking Vitamin E near mealtime increases its absorption into the body. Taking more than 1,000 mg/day is not recommended because of its potential to cause bleeding in large doses. If you’re going to have surgery, stop using Vitamin E for a week or two before the procedure. Vitamin E can thin your blood, so if too much is present in your bloodstream during surgery, you run a risk of hemorrhage.

How Vitamin E Works:

Vitamin E's main function in the body is to enable the proper functioning of nerves and muscles. Part of the tocopherol molecule is well-suited to enable it to penetrate cell walls, and another part can give up a hydrogen atom to neutralize harmful free radicals inside cells.

Possible Risks of Vitamin E Use:

  • increased bleeding and inhibition of clotting function (if taken in excess of 1,000 mg/day)
  • some studies indicate an increase risk of heart problems among people who are taking high doses of vitamin E (more than about 300 mg/day)

Side Effects

Vitamin E has no known side effects when taken in moderate doses. It’s rare for anyone to be allergic to Vitamin E. But if you do experience a severe reaction (rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, trouble breathing) see a doctor immediately.


At low to moderate doses, there are few if any side effects of vitamin E and its antioxidant properties may help prevent cancer or recurrence of cancer.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Breast Cancer
  4. Life During Treatment
  5. General Side Effects
  6. Help For Hot Flashes
  7. Vitamin E Lowers Breast Cancer Risk, Moderates Hot Flashes

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