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Beta-carotene and vitamin D deficiencies may increase esophageal cancer risk

March 17, 2014

People with low blood concentrations of beta-carotene and vitamin D may have an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer, reports a new study from China.

The case-control study measured the blood concentrations of beta-carotene and vitamin D of 100 patients with diagnosed esophageal cancer and compared them with the blood levels of 200 healthy participants (1). The study results showed that levels of both beta-carotene and vitamin D were significantly lower in those with esophageal cancer compared to the healthy group. The lower the blood concentrations were, the higher the cancer risk.

The scientists concluded that a sufficient intake of beta-carotene and vitamin D may contribute to the pre- vention of esophageal cancer. While overall study results are inconsistent, some trials have suggested that beta-carotene (2) and vitamin D (3) may each have their own protective effects against cancer. Due to its antioxidant properties beta-carotene may protect cells from oxidative damage while vitamin D is thought to prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading. In China, roughly 250,000 new esophageal cancer cases are diagnosed each year.

References

  1. Huang G. et al. Vitamin D3 and Beta-carotene Deficiency is Associated with Risk of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Results of a Case-control Study in China. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(2):819-823.
  2. Druesne-Pecollo N. et al. Beta-carotene supplementation and cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Cancer. 2010; 127:172-184.
  3. Gilbert R. et al. Associations of circulating and dietary vitamin D with prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. Cancer Causes Control. 2011; 22:319-340.