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Epidemiological evidence for beta-carotene in prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease

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Author: Poppel, G. van
Institution: Centraal Instituut voor Voedingsonderzoek TNO
Source:European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suppl. 3, 50, S57-S61
Identifier: 84150
Keywords: Nutrition · beta Carotene · Cancer · Cardiovascular Diseases · Epidemiology · Fruit · Humans · Neoplasms · Risk Factors · Vegetables


Objective and conclusions: This article gives an overview of observational and experimental epidemiological studies relating β-carotene to risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Observational epidemiological studies have consistently shown that a diet rich in β-carotenerich fruits and vegetables or high blood levels of β-carotene are associated with a reduced risk of cancer at a number of common sites, such as lung and stomach. For other cancer sites, such as prostate and breast, the observational evidence is not very consistent or absent altogether. For cardiovascular disease, observational studies are less numerous but do point to a protective effect of high β-carotene intake. The associations from observational epidemiology may indeed be ascribed to β-carotene, since a number of plausible preventive mechanisms have been demonstrated for cancer as well as cardiovascular disease. However, observational epidemiology cannot resolve the question whether other constituents from fruits and vegetables or other factors may explain the findings from the case-control and cohort studies. The results of intervention studies undertaken so far are disappointing and do not indicate a preventive potential for β-carotene. Further intervention trials with longer follow-up may be needed to elucidate whether β-carotene is protective against certain forms of cancer and against cardiovascular disease. Chemicals/CAS: beta Carotene, 7235-40-7