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Atherosclerosis. 2000 Nov;153(1):231-9.

High plasma levels of alpha- and beta-carotene are associated with a lower risk of atherosclerosis: results from the Bruneck study.

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Department of Surgery and Gastroenterology, University of Padua, Padua, Italy.



A large number of studies have contributed to the hypothesis that carotenoids, vitamins A and E are protective against atherosclerosis by acting as antioxidants. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between plasma levels of carotenoids (alpha- and beta- carotene, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin), vitamins A and E, and atherosclerosis in the carotid and femoral arteries.


This prospective and cross sectional study involved a randomly selected population sample of 392 men and women aged 45-65 years. Carotid and femoral artery atherosclerosis was assessed by high-resolution duplex ultrasound.


alpha- and beta- carotene plasma levels were inversely associated with the prevalence of atherosclerosis in the carotid and femoral arteries (P=0.004) and with the 5-year incidence of atherosclerotic lesions in the carotid arteries (P=0.04). These findings were obtained after adjustment for other cardiovascular risk factors (sex, age, LDL (low density lipoproteins), ferritin, systolic blood pressure, smoking, categories of alcohol consumption, social status, C-reactive protein). Atherosclerosis risk gradually decreased with increasing plasma alpha- and beta-carotene concentrations (P=0.004). No associations were found between vitamin A and E plasma levels and atherosclerosis.


This study provides further epidemiological evidence of a protective role of high alpha- and beta- carotene in early atherogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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