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NIH study links vitamin E supplementation to prostate cancer

BY Michael Johnsen

BETHESDA, Md. — A National Institutes of Health study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association established a link between vitamin E supplementation and prostate cancer. Men who took 400 international units of vitamin E daily had more prostate cancers compared with men who took a placebo, according to an updated review of data from the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, the NIH stated.

The findings showed that, per 1,000 men, there were 76 prostate cancers in men who took only vitamin E supplements versus 65 in men on placebo over a seven-year period, or 11 more cases of prostate cancer per 1,000 men. This represents a 17% increase in prostate cancers relative to those who took a placebo, the study noted.

"Based on these results and the results of large cardiovascular studies using vitamin E, there is no reason for men in the general population to take the dose of vitamin E used in SELECT (400 IUs) as the supplements have shown no benefit and some very real risks," stated Eric Klein, a study co-chair for SELECT and a physician at the Cleveland Clinic.

"Although ‘statistically significant’ to a statistician, one wonders if an absolute increase in the risk of prostate cancer of 1.6 cases per 1,000 person-years is really a ‘significantly increased risk of prostate cancer’ as noted in the article," countered Duffy MacKay, VP scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

“Men shouldn’t rush to judgment about vitamin E based on this study, but instead should consider the body of evidence, the amount being taken and their individual medical history," MacKay said. "Even with respect to prostate cancer, two other studies that were cited within the article produced different results — one demonstrated a 35% risk reduction for prostate cancer in men taking 50 mg (75 IU) vitamin E daily for six years and another resulted in no effect on risk."

"The study itself, in the confines of the drug model, appears to be well designed and well executed; however, it also evidences the risks of examining a nutrient in isolation," MacKay said. "With a reductionist approach to the benefits of nutrition, the study showed that a dose of 400 IU vitamin E was not likely to provide benefit for preventing cancer, and the authors found an increased risk for developing prostate cancer. Interestingly, when vitamin E was combined with selenium, the risk was reduced to a nonsignificant statistic, perhaps even the result of chance," he noted. "This reinforces the theory that vitamins work synergistically and that drug-like trials of nutrients, when used in isolation from other nutrients, may not be the most appropriate way to study them."

SWOG, an international network of research institutions, carried out SELECT at more than 400 clinical sites in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. SELECT was funded by the National Cancer Institute and other institutes that comprise the National Institutes of Health.

The SELECT study began in 2001 and included more than 35,000 men. It was started because earlier research had suggested that selenium or vitamin E might reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. However, based on an independent safety monitoring review in autumn 2008, participants were told to stop taking their study supplements because it had become clear that the trial would never produce the 25% reduction in prostate cancer the study was designed to show with the use of these supplements. In 2010, the study sites were closed and more than half of the participants consented to have their health monitored via mail questionnaires. Now, because of this latest finding, researchers are encouraging all participants to consider taking part in long-term study follow-up so investigators can continue to track outcomes.

SELECT was undertaken to substantiate earlier, separate findings from studies in which prostate cancer risk was not the primary outcome. A 1998 study of male smokers in Finland who took 50 IU of vitamin E daily to prevent lung cancer showed 32% fewer prostate cancers in men who took the supplement. A 1996 study of men and women with a history of skin cancer who took selenium for prevention of disease recurrence showed that men who took the supplement had 52% fewer prostate cancers than men who did not take the supplement.

SELECT researchers are now measuring the amount of vitamin E, selenium and other nutrients in the blood of participants when they joined the trial, to see if the effect of the supplements depended upon this baseline level of micronutrient. Other researchers are looking at single nucleotide polymorphisms, which are DNA changes known as SNPs, to see if a change in one or more genes could affect cancer risk or perhaps increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer while taking vitamin E.

Except for skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men in the United States. The current lifetime risk of prostate cancer for American men is 16%. In 2011, there will be an estimated 240,890 new cases of prostate cancer and 33,720 deaths from this disease in the United States.

For questions about vitamin E, consumers should talk with their physician, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or other healthcare practitioner, MacKay suggested.

 


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Walgreens plugs into Orlando market with on-site electric charging stations

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday will unveil its first electric vehicle charging station in Orlando, Fla., at its International Drive and Sand Lake Road location with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m., as City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer makes the inaugural charge.

“These charging stations in neighborhoods and along major commuter routes will offer quick accessibility for EV drivers who may be worried about where to charge up next,” stated Walgreens market VP Marlin Hutchens. “These charging stations will continue to set us apart as a retailer as more people choose greener lifestyles.”

In July, Walgreens announced plans to offer EV charging stations at approximately 800 locations across the country by the end of the year. Walgreens has installations under way across Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Other host sites will incorporate stores in Boston and Denver. Select locations in Florida, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington also will receive EV charging stations.

Walgreens is working with Car Charging Group, an owner and provider of EV charging stations, to offer charging sites at eight locations throughout the area by the end of October. The charging stations will feature two level-2 chargers that are compatible with every EV produced in North America. Walgreens is helping to build Orlando’s EV charging infrastructure by becoming the area’s largest retail host of charging stations.

Car Charging Group will install, manage and maintain EV charging stations on Walgreens properties. The company will provide flexible payment options, the ability to make reservations and tracking of customer usage patterns, energy use, costs and revenues, all via the ChargePoint Network’s cloud-based software service plans for managing EV charging operations. Car Charging Group’s EV services installation also will provide Walgreens customers with access to ChargePoint Network’s 24/7 driver support and mobile phone applications, which include station location and real-time availability, turn-by-turn navigation and charging status.

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Remembering Len DeMino

BY Rob Eder

NORTH BETHESDA, Md. — The industry has lost a true “patriot of pharmacy practice” in longtime industry veteran Leonard “Len” DeMino, who passed away on Sept. 16. DeMino was 81.

“The growth and success of the profession of pharmacy — and where it stands today in our American society and in healthcare delivery — is the result of it standing on the shoulders of giants. In every sense of the word, Len is one of those giants,” National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson noted. “We will continue to see that in the future of pharmacy because we have all benefitted from the passion, commitment and love of Len for not only the profession of pharmacy, but the people that it serves. Len DeMino was a humanitarian who devoted himself to the promotion of human welfare and the advancement of pharmacy. Len embodied everything good about our nation and our industry.”

DeMino — who served the chain pharmacy industry for more than 50 years — first joined NACDS as VP pharmacy affairs in June 1989, after more than three decades with the once storied mid-Atlantic regional powerhouse Peoples Drug Stores (acquired by CVS in 1990), where he rose from staff pharmacist to VP. At NACDS, DeMino was a champion on state and national legislative issues, particularly on the third-party reimbursement front.

“NACDS tells the story of pharmacy as the face of neighborhood health care, and Len has lived that message every day as a patriot of pharmacy practice,” Anderson said at the time of DeMino’s official retirement in June 2009 as a senior pharmacy consultant to NACDS.

An early recipient of the NACDS Harold W. Pratt Award in 1988, DeMino also was a recipient of the American Pharmacists Association’s Bowl of Hygeia Award for community service. While at Peoples, DeMino was active in industry affairs, serving as chairman of the Pharmacy Affairs Committee and as the NACDS representative to the Drug Enforcement Administration Pharmacy Working Committee. He also was a past member of the Maryland Board of Pharmacy, and was active in the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

DeMino, a pharmacy graduate of George Washington University, also was highly active on the academic front, as an instructor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy and Pharmacal Sciences at Howard University, and as a member of the Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy Advisory Board.

DeMino is survived by his wife, Delores; daughter, Cristina and her husband Steve Finney; son, Joseph and his wife Anita DeMino; and his three grandchildren — Catherine and Michael Finney, and Anna DeMino.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Leonard J. DeMino Pharmacy Scholarship Fund, c/o NACDS Foundation, 413 N. Lee Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

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