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.