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Safety of Beta Carotene
Well-known studies on relatively high doses (1-2) of isolated beta-carotene gave indications of increased risk of lung cancer in a high risk population (smokers and asbestos workers). For years, the use of beta-carotene in food supplements for these risk groups was meant to be dangerous. Now, an expert panel of the European Food Safety Authority EFSA has given the all-clear and classified the daily intake of beta-carotene up to an amount of 15 mg in food additives or nutritional supplements as safe (3), even for smokers.
We are convinced that this assessment will ease the tension that existed as a result of a partly highly imbalanced discussion.
(1) ATBC Study group (The Alpha-Tocopherol, β-carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group). The effects of vitamin E and β-carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. New England Journal of Medicine (1994) 330, 1029-1356.
(2) Omenn GS et al. Risk factors for lung cancer and for intervention effects in CARET, the β-carotene and retinol efficiency trial. Journal of the National Cancer Institute (1996) 88, 1550-1559.
(3) EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS); Statement of the safety of β- carotene use in heavy smokers. EFSA Journal 2012;10(12):2953. [7 pp.] doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2012.2953.