The 14-year study assessed the direct relationship between alpha-carotene concentrations and risk of death among more than 15,000 U.S. adults. The authors reported significant associations between serum alpha-carotene concentrations and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all other causes. Most people are familiar with the more widely known antioxidant, beta-carotene, but researchers are suggesting that alpha-carotene may be around 10 times more effective than beta-carotene in inhibiting the development of cancer cells.
Published in the current online issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, the study found that — compared with individuals with blood alpha-carotene levels between 0 and 1 µg/dL — the risk of death during the study period was 23% lower among those who had concentrations between 2 and 3 µg/dL, 27% lower with levels between 4 and 5 µg/dL, 34% lower with levels between 6 and 8 µg/dL and 39% lower with levels of 9 µg/dL or higher.
Alpha-carotene is found in high concentrations of yellow-orange vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins and dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and leaf lettuce. Findings from the study support increasing fruit and vegetable consumption as a way of preventing premature death.