Carotenoids and the risk of developing lung cancer: A systematic review

Lisa Gallicchio, Kristina Boyd, Genevieve Matanoski, Xuguang Tao, Liwei Chen, Tram K. Lam, Meredith Shiels, Edward Hammond, Karen A. Robinson, Laura E. Caulfield, James G. Herman, Eliseo Guallar, Anthony J. Alberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Background: Carotenoids are thought to have anti-cancer properties, but findings from population-based research have been inconsistent. Objective: We aimed to conduct a systematic review of the associations between carotenoids and lung cancer. Design: We searched electronic databases for articles published through September 2007. Six randomized clinical trials examining the efficacy of β-carotene supplements and 25 prospective observational studies assessing the associations between carotenoids and lung cancer were analyzed by using random-effects meta-analysis. Results: The pooled relative risk (RR) for the studies comparing β-carotene supplements with placebo was 1.10 (95% confidence limits: 0.89, 1.36; P = 0.39). Among the observational studies that adjusted for smoking, the pooled RRs comparing highest and lowest categories of total carotenoid intake and of total carotenoid serum concentrations were 0.79 (0.71, 0.87; P < 0.001) and 0.70 (0.44, 1.11; P = 0.14), respectively. For β-carotene, highest compared with lowest pooled RRs were 0.92 (0.83, 1.01; P = 0.09) for dietary intake and 0.84 (0.66, 1.07; P = 0.15) for serum concentrations. For other carotenoids, the RRs comparing highest and lowest categories of intake ranged from 0.80 for β-cryptoxanthin to 0.89 for α-carotene and lutein-zeaxanthin; for serum concentrations, the RRs ranged from 0.71 for lycopene to 0.95 for lutein-zeaxanthin. Conclusions: β-Carotene supplementation is not associated with a decrease in the risk of developing lung cancer. Findings from prospective cohort studies suggest inverse associations between carotenoids and lung cancer; however, the decreases in risk are generally small and not statistically significant. These inverse associations may be the result of carotenoid measurements' function as a marker of a healthier lifestyle (higher fruit and vegetable consumption) or of residual confounding by smoking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-383
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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