Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub,
MD, Senior Editor.
To the Editor: Dr Meydani and colleagues1 reported the results of a vitamin E trial involving
residents in long-term care facilities. In a post hoc analysis, they observed
a slightly lower common cold incidence in the group that was administered
200 IU/d of vitamin E (relative risk [RR], 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI],
We examined the effect of vitamin E (50 mg/d) on common cold incidence
in the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study cohort involving
21 796 male smokers aged 50 to 69 years at baseline.2 We
found no overall effect of vitamin E on common cold incidence (RR, 0.99; 95%
CI, 0.98-1.01). However, in an exploratory subgroup analysis, we found a statistically
significant but clinically modest reduction of common cold incidence in city-dwelling
participants aged 65 years or older who smoked less than 15 cigarettes/d (RR,
0.72; 95% CI, 0.62-0.83), with no effect among elderly participants living
outside cities or smoking more than 15 cigarettes/d (RR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.94-1.05).
Hemilä H, Kaprio J. Vitamin E and Respiratory Tract Infections in Elderly Persons. JAMA. 2004;292(23):2834. doi:10.1001/jama.292.23.2834-a