According to researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the intake of beta-carotene seems to be inversely associated with death caused by heart disease and cancer among the elderly.
Researchers analyzed data for plasma concentrations for beta-carotene in over 1100 elderly men and women in a variety of European countries including Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands.
While previous studies of this kind have been conducted using middle-aged participants, the researchers purposely chose an older aged sample population. Since oxidative damage is higher in the elderly, researchers were hoping that an older sample of participants would make it possible to see the benefits of beta-carotene (an antioxidant) consumption.
After a follow-up period of 10 years, researchers looked at causes of mortality. Carotene concentrations were associated with a lower mortality risk for both cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, the lower risk of cardiovascular disease was confined to those with a BMI of less than 25.
The association between beta-carotene and a higher cancer risk among smokers has raised questions about beta-carotene role as a supplement.
Beta-carotene is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in carrots, cantaloupe and other fruit and vegetables with red, orange and yellow pigments.
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