WASHINGTON (AFP) - US researchers warned Tuesday of an alarming link between vitamin E supplements and a 17 percent increased risk of prostate cancer, describing the findings as an important public health concern. Ten years after the start of a randomised trial of more than 35,000 men, researchers discovered the spike in prostate cancer among those assigned to take vitamin E rather than selenium or a placebo. Dietary supplementation with vitamin E significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men, said the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Selenium, a trace mineral found in foods like Brazil nuts, tuna and beef, is often deficient in areas such as China and Russia where it is lacking in the soil. The study was launched based on previous research that had suggested that selenium or vitamin E might reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. The latest data emerged three years after a preliminary study of the findings, published in 2008, showed a slightly higher but statistically insignificant risk of prostate cancer among those taking vitamin E. However, since the risk was approaching statistical significance, a safety committee called for a halt to the randomized Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico in 2008. A longer-term follow up, concluded in July of this year, has revealed the higher cancer incidence in men assigned to the vitamin E portion of the trial.