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The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers

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Heinonen, O.P.
Albanes, D.

Abstract:
Background. Epidemiologic evidence indicates that diets high in carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as high serum levels of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and beta carotene, are associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer. Methods. We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled primary-prevention trial to determine whether daily supplementation with alpha-tocopherol, beta carotene, or both would reduce the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers. A total of 29,133 male smokers 50 to 69 years of age from southwestern Finland were randomly assigned to one of four regimens: alpha-tocopherol (50 mg per day) alone, beta carotene (20 mg per day) alone, both alpha-tocopherol and beta carotene, or placebo. Follow-up continued for five to eight years. Results. Among the 876 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed during the trial, no reduction in incidence was observed among the men who received alpha-tocopherol (change in incidence as compared with those who did not, -2 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, -14 to 12 percent). Unexpectedly, we observed a higher incidence of lung cancer among the men who received beta carotene than among those who did not (change in incidence, 18 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, 3 to 36 percent). We found no evidence of an interaction between alpha-tocopherol and beta carotene with respect to the incidence of lung cancer.





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