The risk for nicotine-induced lung cancer might have found its match in a carotenoid called beta-cryptoxanthin, according to a study from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. Using a mouse strain that develops lung tumors when exposed to nicotine, the researchers fortified the animals’ diets with beta cryptoxanthin for two weeks prior to and for 16 weeks following exposure to nicotine. The amount given was the equivalent of giving humans up to 0.87 milligrams a day. At the end of the study, the mice fed beta cryptoxanthin developed 50% to 60% fewer tumors than mice not fed this carotenoid. In a second study, cultured human lung cancer cells that were treated with varying doses of this carotenoid had significantly lower cancer cell migration and invasion capacity compared with non-treated cells. The researchers conclude that, “…for smokers, tobacco product users or individuals at higher risk for tobacco smoke exposure, our results provide experimental evidence that eating foods high in beta cryptoxanthin may have a beneficial effect on lung cancer risk.”
In Perspective: Beta carotene is one of more than 600 carotenoids and, up until recently, was considered the only one that could be converted to vitamin A in the body. Evidence now shows that beta cryptoxanthin also is an excellent building block for the vitamin.
Elizabeth Somer, M.A.,R.D.
Iskandar A, Miao B, Li X, et al: Beta cryptoxanthin reduced lung tumor multiplicity and inhibited lung cancer cell motility by down regulating nicotinic acetylcholine receptor 7 signaling. Cancer Prevention Research 2016; November 1st.
Burri B: Beta cryptoxanthin as a source of vitamin A. Journal of the Science of Food & Agriculture 2015;95:1786-1794.