DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE
Beta Carotene Supplements Not the Answer for Cancer or Heart Disease
Previous observational studies have indicated that people who consumed foods that were high in beta carotene had lower risk of certain cancers and heart disease. It was never determined whether the lowering was from beta carotene, other associated nutrients, dietary habits in these individuals, or nondietary lifestyle features. Despite the lack of data as to the reasons for the risk reductions, sales of beta carotene supplements increased.
In a recent study, published in the New England
Journal of Medicine, Charles H. Hennekens, M. D. and
at the Harvard School of Public Health followed over 22,000 adult
males for 12 years, half randomized to take beta carotene, half
randomized to take placebo. They found "neither benefit
nor harm in terms of the incidence of malignant neoplasms,
disease, or death form all causes."