According to the University of Helsinki, the administration of 50 mg of vitamin E per day decreased the risk of pneumonia in elderly male smokers by 72% after quitting smoking.

Dr Harri Hemilä, University of Helsinki, Finland, studied whether vitamin E supplementation might influence the risk of community-acquired pneumonia. He analyzed the data of the randomized trial (Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention [ATBC] Study) which was conducted in Finland between 1985-1993 and included male smokers aged from 50 to 69 years. The age when the participant had started to smoke significantly modified the effect of vitamin E on pneumonia. Vitamin E decreased the risk of pneumonia by 35% in 7,469 participants who had started smoking at a later age, at 21 years or older, whereas the vitamin had no apparent effect on pneumonia for those who had started to smoke at a younger age.

Among the 7,469 participants who started to smoke at a later age, vitamin E supplementation reduced the incidence of pneumonia by 69% in a subgroup of 2,216 light smokers who exercised in their leisure time. In this subgroup, vitamin E prevented pneumonia in 12.9% of the participants by the time they reached the age of 74 years, which corresponds to one in eight getting a benefit from the vitamin. The vitamin did not have a significant effect on participants who smoked heavily or had not been taking exercise.

One-third of the 7,469 participants quit smoking for a period and 27 of them got pneumonia. These 27 cases of pneumonia can be used to estimate the effect of vitamin E on currently nonsmoking males. The incidence of pneumonia was 72% lower in the vitamin E participants who had quit smoking, and this benefit from vitamin E was also seen among those who smoked heavily or did not exercise.

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