BACKGROUND: Smoking tobacco products reduces the body's levels of many
nutrients, including antioxidants. At the same time, the liver needs higher
levels of some of these nutrients to promote the detoxification (breakdown)
of hazardous compounds in tobacco smoke.
RESEARCH: Researchers asked 42 male smokers, all of whom also had elevated
blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, to take a combination of
antioxidant supplements daily for six weeks. One group took moderate daily dosages of beta-carotene (15 mg), vitamin C (500 mg), and vitamin E (400
IU) within 30 minutes of the morning meal. The other group took the same
supplements at two meals per day, thus consuming twice the amounts of these
RESULTS: Blood levels of several key antioxidant enzymes -- catalase,
glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase -- increased significantly
in both groups. In addition, oxidized (free-radical damaged) fats in
cholesterol decreased significantly. Levels of iron, which can promote
free-radical reactions, also declined. These improvements were not
consistently related to the dosage, suggesting that the benefits of
moderate and high intake of antioxidants were roughly equivalent.
IMPLICATIONS: A combination of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E
boosted levels of protective antioxidant enzymes in male smokers who also
had elevated levels of free radicals. While every effort should be made to encourage smokers to cease using tobacco, these supplements may provide
some protection against some of the health hazards of tobacco products.
Chao JCJ, Huang CH, Wu SJ, et al, "Effects of beta-carotene, vitamin C and
E on antioxidant status in hyperlipidemic smokers," Journal of Nutritional
For the original abstract, visit: <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12121830&dopt=Abstract