People who consume a diet rich in fruit and vegetables have lower risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. Many prospective cohort studies have reported inverse associations between dietary intake or blood levels of beta-carotene and risks of cancer. Several large-scale trials were set up to assess whether beta-carotene supplementation might reduce the risk of cancer. Subsequently, evidence emerged from basic research which indicated that oxidative modification of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol increases its atherogenicity. The evidence from basic research, and epidemiological evidence for a possible protective effect of antioxidant vitamins for cardiovascular disease was strongest for vitamin E. More recently, further trials were set up to examine if supplementation with anti-oxidant vitamins might also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This review summarises the available randomised evidence from published trials of beta-carotene supplementation involving 70,000 people from 3 large-scale trials in healthy populations and on vitamin E supplementation involving 29,000 patients at high-risk of cardiovascular disease from 5 large-scale trials. The results of these trials have been disappointing and failed to confirm any protective effect of these vitamins for either cancer or for cardiovascular disease.


Journal article


Cardiovasc Drugs Ther

Publication Date





411 - 415


Antioxidants, Arteriosclerosis, Ascorbic Acid, Cardiovascular Diseases, Carotenoids, Cholesterol, LDL, Humans, Oxidative Stress, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Risk Assessment, Vitamin E, Vitamins, beta Carotene