Overblown myth

Published: Thursday 29 February 1996

Demand dimmed: carrots need no (Credit: Arvind Yadav / CSE)BETA carotene, the amazing vitamin found primarily in carrots and promoted as a preventive cure for both cancer and heart disease may not work wonders after all. Contrary, to popular beliefs, two studies financed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), US, reveal that beta carotene is completely ineffective in preventing cancer and heart disease and in certain cases, it could even prove harmful to some people.

Health officials in the us hope that the revelations could bring to an end the beta carotene fad. Says Richard Klausner, director, NCI, "With clearly no benefit and even a hint of possible harm, I can see no reason that an individual should take beta carotene." One of the studies - Physicians Health Study - which took 12 years, involved 22,071 doctors who were randomly ordered to take 50 mg of beta carotene or a dummy pill every other day. 'The other study - Beta Carotene and Retinol Efficacy - with 18,314 participants, had them consuming beta carotene, a vitamin A Pill, both or a placebo.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.