Beta Carotene is a natural pigment synthesized by plants. It is found in orange and yellow fruits like cantaloupe, apricots, papaya, squash, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and even leafy greens and broccoli. It has antioxidant and immune-stimulant properties. Among other benefits, it is known to protect us from free radicals, decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and maintain epithelial functions. However, there is still a lack of studies establishing the effects of Beta Carotene on many diseases and ailments.
Beta Carotene and Cancer
While there are some studies that highlight the contribution of Beta Carotene in the treatment of various types of cancer, there are conflicting studies too which suggest that it may increase the risk of certain cancers.
- High dietary intake of Beta Carotene may reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
- On the other hand, high serum levels of beta carotene might be associated with prostate cancer.
- In a case-controlled study it was found that higher concentrations of plasma carotenoids were associated with a reduced risk of urothelial cell carcinoma.
- In another study, no association was found between the consumption of beta carotene, vitamins A, C, fruits, and vegetables and the risk of renal cell carcinoma.
- In a systematic review and meta-analyses it was found that supplements like antioxidants, beta carotene, and vitamins (A, C, and E) cannot prevent gastrointestinal cancer. On the contrary, beta carotene might increase the overall mortality.
- In male smokers, over the age of 40, regular supplementation with beta carotene might increase the risk of lung cancer.
- If a patient is a smoker and takes beta carotene supplementation, then it might reduce the efficacy of cancer therapies and result in increased recurrence and mortality.
- Alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on the chemopreventive property of beta carotene.
References & More information
- Credit: Beyond Conventional Care Therapies
- ZenOnco.io Integrative Oncology Cancer Care
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- The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. N Engl J Med. Apr 14 1994;330(15):1029-1035.
- Satia JA, Littman A, Slatore CG, Galanko JA, White E. Long-term use of beta-carotene, retinol, lycopene, and lutein supplements and lung cancer risk: results from the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) study. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Apr 1;169(7):815-28.
- Meyer F, Bairati I, Fortin A, et al. Interaction between antioxidant vitamin supplementation and cigarette smoking during radiation therapy in relation to long-term effects on recurrence and mortality: a randomized trial among head and neck cancer patients. Int J Cancer. Apr 1 2008;122(7):1679-1683.
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- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Beta-Carotene.
- Lone Star Medical Group: Natural Alternative Treatments
- Therapeutic Research Center: Natural Medicines Database