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Dietary Supplements

Daniel Kesden, MD
JAMA. 1987;258(7):909. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400070046020.
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To the Editor.—  In the April 10, 1987, issue of JAMA, there was an article entitled "Vitamin Preparations as Dietary Supplements and as Therapeutic Agents" by the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association.1 There is a statement in this article to the effect that there is no evidence that taking supplemental carotene will prevent cancer in man. This statement is incorrect; indeed, there are other benefits from a high intake of beta carotene.First, there is epidemiologic evidence that low levels of beta carotene increase the risk of several types of cancer. The intake of dietary beta carotene was inversely related to the development of cancer of the lung in the Western Electric study2 and several other studies.3,4 Beta carotene may be protective against oral, gastrointestinal, and cervical cancer as well.Currently, several studies in progress are testing the effects of supplemental beta carotene


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