BETHESDA, MARYLAND. Researchers at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute report that men with low blood levels of vitamin C have a higher risk of dying prematurely especially from cancer than do men with high levels. Their study involved 3347 men and 3724 women who had their vitamin C status determined from blood samples at the start of the study in 1976-1980. By the end of 1992 791 men and 566 women had died. After adjusting for age, race, educational level, smoking, alcohol consumption, systolic blood pressure, BMI (body mass index), and diabetes status the researchers concluded that the men with a blood level of vitamin C below 28.4 micromol/L had a 57 per cent higher risk of dying prematurely from any cause and a 62 per cent higher risk of dying from cancer than did the men with serum levels above 73.8 micromol/L. No significant differences were found for the women of differing vitamin C status. The researchers believe this is because the women generally had significantly higher vitamin C levels than the men and also experienced more hormone-dependent cancers which are not believed to be affected by vitamin C status.
The researchers also found that the use of vitamin supplements was vastly more prevalent among men with
high vitamin C status and lower mortality. Nineteen per cent of the men in the high survival rate group used
vitamin C supplements versus 0.2 per cent in the low survival rate group (low vitamin C status).
Corresponding numbers for users of vitamin E supplements were 10.6 per cent versus 0.8 per cent. More
than 30 per cent of the men in the high survival group used multivitamins compared to only 0.8 per cent in
the low survival group. The researchers conclude that men with low vitamin C intakes are at a significantly
greater risk of dying prematurely especially from cancer.