Dietary carotenoids and vitamin C inversely correlate to lung cancer risk

A new study reveals protective effects of selected carotenoids and vitamin C against lung cancer risks and growth of different type of carcinoma cells

In the study, data from a case control study of lung cancer in Montreal Canada, was used to examine the roles of dietary beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene and vitamin C in lung cancer risks patients.

Dietary information was generated from interviews among 1105 lung cancer cases and 1449 population control with subjects aged 35–75 years old.

The consumption frequency of 49 fruits and vegetables for 2 years prior to diagnosis or interviews was collected. The estimation of lung cancer risks and dietary intakes of carotenoids and vitamin C, after adjusting for confounding factors was assessed by odd ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using logistic and polytomous regression models.

The results show that when compared to low intake of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene and vitamin C, subjects with the highest intake of the aforementioned carotenoids and vitamin C demonstrated a reduced risk of lung cancer.

CheeYen Lau, Nutritionist at ExcelVite, said: “Beta-carotene was once thought to be the most potent carotenoid when it was first discovered. However… large human clinical such as the CARET1 and ATBC2 studies showed that supplementation with beta-carotene alone could increase the risk of lung cancer, especially among smokers. These unexpected results caused turmoil in the research and market of beta-carotene as well as the dietary supplement industry.

In this current study, it is worthwhile to note that high consumption of dietary natural carotenoids and vitamin C from fruits and vegetables, with a multitude of carotenoid isoforms — do not correlate to lung cancer risk. Hence it is believed that dietary supplement of natural mixed-carotenes may help to lower the risk of lung cancer and progression of carcinoma cells, as these carotenoids work synergistically to confer optimum protection and benefits.

High consumption of carotenoids (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and lycopene) and vitamin C show a statistically lower risk of lung cancer in male heavy smokers and female heavy smokers respectively.

Additionally, high intakes of selected carotenoids and vitamin C were shown to associate with decreased development of different carcinoma cells.

Carotenoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene and vitamin C were linked with decreased progression of squamous cell carcinoma.

Alpha-carotene and beta-carotene reduced adenocarcinoma cells development while beta-cryptoxanthin and lycopene show inverse correlation with small cells carcinoma growth.

Lau said: “The bottom line is to take natural carotenoids derived from fruits and vegetable (as found in nature) — which are “natural and wholesome” antioxidant and carotenoids. ExcelVite’s EVTene is a natural mixed-carotene complex, concentrated from the fruit of oil palm. It contains mainly alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and an appreciable amount of other carotenoids such as gamma-carotene and lycopene. Another interesting attribute is that the composition of carotenoids in EVTene is similar to that of carrots, thereby providing a bouquet of carotenoids as nature intended.”


1. G.S. Omenn, et al., “Effects of a combination of beta carotene and vitamin A on lung cancer and cardiovascular disease,” N Engl J Med. 334(18), 1150–5 (1996).

2. The ATBC Study Group, “Incidence of cancer and mortality following {alpha} tocopherol and {beta}-carotene supplementation: a post-intervention follow-up,” JAMA 290(4), 476–85 (2003).

3. M. Shareck, et al., “Inverse association between dietary intake of selected carotenoids and vitamin C and risk of lung cancer,” Frontiers in Oncology 7(23), (2017).