Neoplastic and antineoplastic effects of β-carotene on colorectal adenoma recurrence: Results of a randomized trial

John A. Baron, Bernard F. Cole, Leila Mott, Robert Haile, Maria Grau, Timothy R. Church, Gerald J. Beck, E. Robert Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Background: In two large, randomized prevention trials, supplementation with β-carotene increased the risk of lung cancer. Subjects in these studies were predominantly cigarette smokers, and the adverse effects were concentrated among those who also drank alcohol. Although β-carotene supplementation appeared not to increase the risk of cancer generally, it is not clear if smoking and/or alcohol use alters the effect of β-carotene on carcinogenesis at sites outside the lung. Methods: We studied the effect of β-carotene supplementation on colorectal adenoma recurrence among subjects in a multicenter double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of antioxidants for the prevention of colorectal adenomas. A total of 864 subjects who had had an adenoma removed and were polyp-free were randomly assigned (in a factorial design) to receive β-carotene (25 mg or placebo) and/or vitamins C and E in combination (1000 mg and 400 mg, respectively, or placebo), and were followed with colonoscopy for adenoma recurrence 1 year and 4 years after the qualifying endoscopy. A total of 707 subjects had two follow-up examinations and provided smoking and alcohol use data. Adjusted multivariate risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to assess the effects of β-carotene on adenoma recurrence. Results: Among subjects who neither smoked cigarettes nor drank alcohol, β-carotene was associated with a marked decrease in the risk of one or more recurrent adenomas (RR = 0.56, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.89), but β-carotene supplementation conferred a modest increase in the risk of recurrence among those who smoked (RR = 1.36, 95% CI = 0.70 to 2.62) or drank (RR = 1.13, 95% CI = 0.89 to 1.43). For participants who smoked cigarettes and also drank more than one alcoholic drink per day, β-carotene doubled the risk of adenoma recurrence (RR = 2.07, 95% CI = 1.39 to 3.08; P for difference from nonsmoker/nondrinker RR <.001). Conclusion: Alcohol intake and cigarette smoking appear to modify the effect of β-carotene supplementation on the risk of colorectal adenoma recurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-722
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 21 2003

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