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 Interviews with Nutritional Experts: Vitamin E Protects Against Heart Disease 
Thank you for your telephone calls about the two Harvard studies presented to the American Heart Association's annual scientific session in New Orleans yesterday. Yes, I am very happy that the data confirms my study conducted in 1974 and published in 1976. I smile a lot these days thanks to the recent confirmations of my research on cancer prevention, cholesterol irrelevance, and the trans-fats in margarine making it inferior to butter.

Forgive me for the "form letter" response, but I can't find the time to get back to each of you with a personal letter. Here are the major points of all three vitamin E studies.

    1. All three studies found that vitamin E supplements (the amount of vitamin E in the diet is not sufficient to produce a significant protective effect) dramatically and significantly reduce the incidence of heart disease.

    2. The protective effect of vitamin E supplements is greater than obtained by reducing dietary cholesterol, dietary fat, blood cholesterol, and other currently popular approaches.

    3. That length of time of supplementation is critical, and that at least two years of supplementation is required before substantial benefit can be measured.

Stampfer's group at Harvard found that women who took more than 100 IU of vitamin E daily for more than two years had a 46% lower risk of heart disease. [2]

Rimm's group at Harvard found that men who used took more than 100 IU of vitamin E daily (time period not specified) had a 37% lower risk of heart disease. [3]

My study showed that those who took even more vitamin E over longer time produced even greater results. The amount of heart disease in any age group decreased proportionably with the length of time that vitamin E had been taken. In fact, the length of time was more important than dosage after a minimum of 400 IU daily was taken.

In all instances where persons consumed 400 IU or more daily of vitamin E for more than ten years , their rate of heart disease was significantly lower than normal (3 per hundred, compared to 32 per hundred). Those who took 1,200 IU or more of vitamin E daily for four or more years reduced the incidence of heart disease from 32 per hundred to 10 per hundred persons.

The participants in this study were more likely to also consume significant amounts of other antioxidant nutrients which would enhance the synergistic effect.

Study Details
Passwater 1 Stampfer 2 Rimm 3
Number of persons 17,894 87,245 51,529
Sex M & F F M
Ages 50-90
Subject group Prev. readers Nurses Health Pros
Study period retrospective 8 years 5 years
Yr. study begun 1974 1984 1987
Yr. study presented 1976 1992 1992
Corrected for Age & Sex
Possible bias self selection participation particip.

Dr. Meir Stampfer will be sending me more details of the Harvard studies, and I will send them on to you when they become available. In the meantime, the New York Times article may be of help. By the way, I have also enclosed the newspaper reports of my 1974 study.


1. Passwater, Richard A.; Heart Disease and Vitamin E Study. Prevention 28(1):63-71 (Jan 1976). Also see, Passwater, Richard A.; Supernutrition For Healthy Hearts. Dial Press, NY (1977) and Passwater, Richard A.; The New Supernutrition. Pocket Books, NY (1991)

2. Stampfer, Meir; Willett, Walter; et al; Vitamin E and Heart Disease Incidence in the Nurses Health Study. Amer. Heart Assoc. Ann. Mtg., New Orleans (Nov 18, 1992)

3. Rimm, Eric; et al; Vitamin E and Heart Disease Incidence in the Health Professionals Study. Amer. Heart Assoc. Ann. Mtg., New Orleans (Nov 18, 1992)

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 About The Author
Richard Passwater PhDRichard A. Passwater, Ph.D. has been a research biochemist since 1959. His first areas of research was in the development of pharmaceuticals and analytical chemistry. His laboratory research led to his discovery of......more
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