Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bad News for Beta Carotene

This morning, The Center for Science in the Public Interest requested that the Food and Drug Administration take enforcement actions against manufacturers of dietary supplements containing more than 5,000 IUs of synthetic beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) unless the labels of such products contain a statement warning consumers (think dietary supplement black box) that beta-carotene may cause lung cancer in smokers. This will obviously include the AREDs and all the AREDs copy-cat formulations.

This action was taken after the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research reviewed the scientific literature on the effects of diet, nutrition, and physical activity on cancer. They concluded that an excessive amount of synthetic beta-carotene (anything over 5,000 IUs) causes lung cancer in current smokers.

This conclusion echoed a concern about beta-carotene expressed in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) State-of-the-Science Conference Statement on Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements and Chronic Disease Prevention in 2006.

The NIH panel concluded: "We found no evidence to recommend beta-carotene supplements for the general population and strong evidence to recommend that smokers avoid excessive beta-carotene supplementation."

In spite of this 2006 NIH consensus, the AREDs2 committee still included 25,000 IUs of synthetic beta-carotene as the Vitamin A source in two of the arms of the AREDs2 study.

Biosyntrx multiples, Oculair and Macula Complete include a very small amount (500 IUs) of natural, not synthetic, beta-carotene as part of a full-spectrum of job specific antioxidants; beta carotene quenches singlet oxygen, which is particularly destructive to the retina. We do not include beta carotene as a source of Vitamin A.

FYI: Synthetic beta carotene is less than one third the cost of natural beta carotene. Therefore, natural beta carotene is rarely included in mass-produced supplements such as Centrum, which includes between 1,000 and 2,000 IUs of synthetic beta carotene as a source of Vitamin A in their different multiples.

Colon Cancer & B Vitamins

A mouse study published in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Nutrition suggests a B vitamin deficiency increases the risk of DNA damage and colorectal cancers.

A number of studies have linked folate deficiency to colon cancer. However, many biochemical functions of folate are dependent on adequate availability of other B vitamins, including B6, B12 and riboflavin.

The researchers in the new Journal of Nutrition study suggested that a mild depletion of folate alone did not affect DNA, but a mild depletion of all four B vitamins significantly increased the DNA damage on the tumor suppressor gene, adenomatosis polyposis coli gene (Apc).

We can't stress enough the importance of supplementing with a full-spectrum multiple that includes all of the B complex vitamins.