It has been well accepted in the medical community that one of the primary causes of cervical cancer is infection by the human Papillomavirus (HPV). Several variants of HPV are known to play a role. Infection by one of these viruses in the uterine cervix is accompanied by the growth of active forms of oxygen in cells, also known as oxidants, which could damage DNA and other parts of a cervical cell. Eventually, this could lead to the initiation and progression of carcinogenesis of the uterine cervix.
Researchers at the Lublin Medical Academy in Poland evaluated 168 female patients with normal cytological smears who did not have HPV infection, and compared the results to 228 patients with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia who did have HPV. They then measured serum levels of vitamin E in all of these individuals by high-performance liquid chromatography. A statistically significant lower level of alpha-tocopherol was observed in the blood serum of HPV-positive patients with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) compared to the controls.
According to this article, vitamin E, in addition to having antioxidant abilities, apparently has anti-proliferative actions. The researchers explain: alpha-tocopherol forms a complex with a protein receptor. This complex activates and/or increases the expression of the phosphatase gene A1 and A2 and dephosphorylation of Kinase C. Decreased activity of kinase C inhibits the activity of ornithine decarboxylase, and, in turn, the biosynthesis of polyamines that maintain uncontrolled cell proliferation.
Kwasniewska A, Tukendorf A, Semczuk M. Content of alpha-tocopherol in blood serum of human Papillomavirus-infected women with cervical dysplasias. Nutrition and Cancer 28(3):248-251, 1997.
Comments: The association of CIN with low levels of serum vitamin E is very interesting. Although formal studies evaluating the role of vitamin E supplementation in reducing the initiation and progression of CIN have not yet been published, it would seem reasonable to add 100 or 200 units of this vitamin to the regimen of women who not only have CIN, but who may be at higher risk of contracting this condition.