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November 13, 2002

Antioxidants and Risk of Alzheimer Disease

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2002;288(18):2265-2266. doi:10.1001/jama.288.18.2265

To the Editor: Dr Morris and colleagues1 and Dr Engelhart and colleagues2 found an inverse relationship between intake of vitamin E from food, but not from supplements, with risk of Alzheimer disease (AD).3 I would like to suggest a mechanism for this finding. The predominant dietary form of vitamin E, γ-tocopherol, but not the form found in supplements, α-tocopherol, has been demonstrated to inhibit cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) production of prostaglandin E2 in macrophages and epithelial cells.4 Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and COX-2 inhibition may protect against AD.5 The same mechanism could explain the benefit of foods high in vitamin E.