THURSDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- People who take vitamin E supplements may be putting themselves at a slight increased risk for a hemorrhagic stroke, researchers report.
Some studies have suggested that taking vitamin E can protect against heart disease, while others have found that, in high doses, it might increase the risk of death. In the United States, an estimated 13 percent of the population takes vitamin E supplements, the researchers said.
"Vitamin E supplementation is not as safe as we may like to believe," said lead researcher Dr. Markus Schurks, who's with the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
"Specifically, it appears to carry an increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke. While the risk is low translating into one additional hemorrhage per 1,250 persons taking vitamin E, widespread and uncontrolled use of vitamin E should be cautioned against," he added.
The report is published in the Nov. 5 online edition of the BMJ.
For the study, Schurks and his colleagues did a meta-analysis, which is a review of published studies, that looked at vitamin E and the risk for stroke.
There are basically two types of stroke: one where blood flow to the brain is blocked, called an ischemic stroke, and one where vessels rupture and bleed into the brain, called a hemorrhagic stroke. Of the two, hemorrhagic strokes are more rare, but more serious, the researchers noted.
The research team looked at nine trials that included 118,756 patients. Although none of the trials found an overall risk for stroke associated with vitamin E, there was a difference in the risk of the type of stroke.
The researchers found there were 223 hemorrhagic strokes among the 50,334 people taking vitamin E, compared with 183 hemorrhagic strokes among the 50,414 people taking a placebo. That's a 22 percent increase in hemorrhagic str
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