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BETA CAROTENE AND CANCER

It used to be that taking beta-carotene supplements was considered a sure bet for preventing cancer. Now, however, several studies suggest this is not the panacea we once thought it was.

First, in smokers, beta-carotene may actually increase the risk of lung cancer. Recent animal studies conducted at Tufts University suggest that oxygen and smoke, mixing in the lungs, oxidize the beta-
carotene, and that process apparently turns the nutrient into a carcinogen.

In another case, beta-carotene was found to protect against prostate cancer, but it was only beneficial for those who had deficient levels of beta-carotene to begin with.

Both these studies suggest that dietary intake of beta carotene (eating your fruits and vegetables, that is) may be more healthful than supplements.

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