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Vitamin E Boosts Healthy Heart for Smokers Who Quit

Update Date: Apr 23, 2013 10:44 AM EDT

Previous research has shown that smokers who quit can drastically improve their health if they persevere and avoid smoking again. Although they might never be able to turn the clock and be as healthy as they once were before smoking, researchers have suggested that quitting alone can already improve one's health. According to a new study, smokers who recently quit might even get a healthy boost when taking vitamin E supplements. The latest study discovered that a specific form of the vitamin E supplement might help people who recently quit smoking accelerate their health benefits.

The researchers gathered participants who wanted to quit smoking and enlisted them into the seven-day experiment. They recruited a total of 30 smokers who were in their 20s. The smokers all smoked at least half a pack to a whole pack per day for at least a year. 16 participants were given the gamma-toopherol form of vitamin E while the remaining 14 were given a placebo. The researchers measured the smokers' blood markers that identified inflammation and blood vessel function before the trial started. After seven days of quitting the habit, the researchers measured the same two factors once again.

The researchers found that for all of the participants, there was an average of a 2.8 percent increase in vascular function. The participants that were given the gamma-tocopherol experienced an extra 1.5 percent improvement. They found that participants who took the vitamin E supplement had an estimated 19 percent lowered risk for future cardiovascular events. These participants had significant improvement in their blood vessel function and also dealt with less inflammation.

"This is a very short-term study that shows very promising effects," said the senior author of the study, Richard Bruno. Bruno is an associate professor of human nutrition at the Ohio State University. "The underlying rationale is that we know it takes many years before the risk for cardiovascular disease of a former smoker matches that of a nonsmoker. We hope to develop a therapy to combine with smoking cessation that could accelerate the restoration of vascular function and reduce cardiovascular risk."

The researchers stressed that although taking gamma-tocopheral is safe in the short term, they do not know of any possible negative side effects of the vitamin when taken for an extended period of time.

The research findings were reported at the annual Experimental Biology meeting in Boston, MA. 

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