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Vitamin E "increases stroke risk"

The risk of suffering a certain type of stroke is increased when taking vitamin E, a new study has claimed.

Participants who took the vitamin saw the risk of having a haemorrhagic stroke - where bleeding occurs in the brain - increase by 22%, compared to those not taking it.

But the report found that the overall risk was small, with one extra haemorrhagic stroke for every 1,250 people taking vitamin E.

More than 111,000 people have a stroke every year and they are the third biggest cause of death in the UK. Those who survive are frequently left with disability.

The rarest type of stroke is haemorrhagic. It happens when a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts and causes brain damage.

Experts from Harvard Medical School in Boston, US, conducted the review.

They also discovered that vitamin E could actually cut the risk of the most common type of stroke by 10%.

Ischaemic strokes account for 70% of all cases and happen when a blood clot prevents blood reaching the brain.

Experts found vitamin E could cut the risk, equivalent to one ischaemic stroke prevented per 476 people taking the vitamin.

However, they warned that keeping to a healthy lifestyle and maintaining low blood pressure and low cholesterol have a far bigger effect on cutting the risk of ischaemic stroke than taking vitamin E.

All participants were taking doses of at least 50mg of vitamin E daily.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

British Medical Journal