[MOL] Beta Carotene Supplements Could Be Harmful [02199] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Beta Carotene Supplements Could Be Harmful

Beta Carotene Supplements Could Be Harmful-Study
    [04/28/99; Eureka News Service]

LONDON (Reuters) - A team of international researchers warned
against taking supplements of beta carotene to prevent cancer,
saying high doses of the nutrient could increase the risk of
the disease in smokers. In a report in the science journal Nature
Wednesday, they said beta carotene may activate enzymes which
could become harmful when they were processing certain carcinogenic
chemicals from cigarette smoke and the environment. ``In humans
-- and particularly in smokers -- high levels of these enzymes
would predispose an individual to greater cancer risk,'' Sherif
Abdel-Rahman, of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
(UTMB), said in a statement. ``Many people believe that taking
antioxidant supplements reduces their risk of getting cancer.
But we don't fully understand how these compounds work in the
body. So further studies are needed before widespread use of
antioxidant supplements is recommended.

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