[Beta]-Carotene and other antioxidant nutrients have been used with some success in the treatment of oral leukoplakia--a precancerous condition in the mouth which may progress to oral cancer. A letter to the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, & Endodontics cautions, however, that it may not be wise to give high doses of [Beta]-carotene to patients with oral leukoplakia who smoke cigarettes.
The authors, from Dalhousie University, the Medical College of Virginia, and the University of California San Francisco, point out that two recent chemoprevention trials have suggested that the use of large doses of [Beta]-carotene may be associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. "Despite studies suggesting a role for antioxidant vitamins in the treatment of oral leukoplakia, at this time it seems prudent to avoid prescribing high dose [Beta]-carotene supplements for current and even previous smokers. Early malignant transformation in oral leukoplakia is much easier to detect and treat effectively than is lung cancer."
John GL Lovas, George E Kaugars, and Sol Silverman Jr, Beta-Carotene and Lung Cancer? [Letter] Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, & Endodontics $263): 236-237 (Sept 1996)
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