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Increased carotenoid intakes may help to prevent colon cancer

March 6, 2013

A new US study suggests that diets high in beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of developing colorectal adenomas.

The long-term observational study involved 29,363 male health professionals who completed food frequency questionnaires every four years and had lower bowel endoscopies to identify potential colorectal adenomas (1). The study results showed that increased intakes of dietary beta-carotene and total beta-carotene (from diet and supplements) as well as lycopene and lutein/zeaxanthin intakes were associated with a decreased colorectal adenoma risk. In comparison between the highest and lowest intakes, risk reduction was up to 28% for beta-carotene, 17% for lycopene and 14% for lutein/zeaxanthin. The association did not vary according to participants’ smoking status and alcohol consumption.

Adenomas of the colon (adenomatous polyps) are benign tumors that have the potential to cause serious health complications by compressing other structures and by producing large amounts of hormones in an unregulated, non-feedback-dependent manner. Colorectal adenomas are quite common and are found with colonoscopy. They are removed because of their tendency to become malignant and lead to colon cancer.

References

  1. Jung S. et al. Carotenoid intake and risk of colorectal adenomas in a cohort of male health professionals. Cancer Causes and Control. Published online February 2013.