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Vitamin E linked with haemorrhagic stroke

By Nigel Praities

Patients should be warned against taking vitamin E supplements due to an increased risk of haemorrhagic stroke, a major analysis concludes.

American and European researchers looked at data from nine randomised clinical trials, involving nearly 120,000 patients, and calculated the excess stroke risk associated with vitamin E supplementation, compared with placebo.

The meta-analysis found overall vitamin E was not associated with an increased risk of stroke, compared with placebo. But when the results were divided into the type of stroke, the researchers found a 22% increased risk of haemorrhagic stroke but a 10%risk reduction for ischaemic stroke for vitamin E treatment versus placebo.

The authors concluded that although the increased risk was small, the seriousness of haemorrhagic stroke meant caution was needed.

Study leader Dr Markus Schürks, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School, said: ‘Because the effects of haemorrhagic stroke are generally more severe than those of ischaemic stroke and high doses of vitamin E supplements may increase all-cause mortality, a widespread and medically uncontrolled use of vitamin E should be cautioned.’

BMJ 2010 341; c5702

credit: Flickr Theogeo Vitamin E