Skip to Content

As a result of the current Federal government funding situation, the information on this website may not be up to date or acted upon.

The NIH Clinical Center (the research hospital of NIH) is open. For more details about its operating status, please visit

Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at

Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Publications Search - Abstract View

Title: The effect of vitamin E on common cold incidence is modified by age, smoking and residential neighborhood.
Authors: Hemilš H,  Virtamo J,  Albanes D,  Kaprio J
Journal: J Am Coll Nutr
Date: 2006 Aug
Branches: MEB
PubMed ID: 16943455
PMC ID: not available
Abstract: BACKGROUND: We have previously found a 28% reduction in common cold incidence with 50 mg/day vitamin E supplementation in a subgroup of the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study cohort: older city-dwelling men (> or =65 years) who smoked only 5-14 cigarettes/day. OBJECTIVE: To carry out more detailed analyses to explore the modification of vitamin E effect by age, smoking, and residential neighborhood. METHODS: We examined the effect of vitamin E on common cold risk in subjects consisting of the placebo and vitamin E arms (n = 14,573) of the ATBC Study, which recruited males aged 50-69 years who smoked > or =5 cigarettes/day at the baseline. The ATBC Study was conducted in southwestern Finland in 1985-1993; the active follow-up lasted for 4.7 years (mean). We modeled common cold risk as a function of age-at-follow-up in the vitamin E arm compared with the placebo arm using linear splines in Poisson regression. RESULTS: In participants of 72 years or older at follow-up, the effect of vitamin E diverged. Among those smoking 5-14 cigarettes per day at baseline and living in cities, vitamin E reduced common cold risk (RR = 0.54; 95% CI 0.37-0.80), whereas among those smoking more and living away from cities, vitamin E increased common cold risk (RR = 1.58; 1.23-2.01). CONCLUSIONS: Vitamin E may cause beneficial or harmful effects on health depending on various modifying factors. Accordingly, caution should be maintained in public health recommendations on vitamin E supplementation until its effects are better understood.