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Biofactors. 2000;13(1-4):89-94.

Cancer prevention by natural carotenoids.

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Department of Biochemistry, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Japan.


Various natural carotenoids were proven to have anticarcinogenic activity. Epidemiological investigations have shown that cancer risk is inversely related to the consumption of green and yellow vegetables and fruits. Since beta-carotene is present in abundance in these vegetables and fruits, it has been investigated extensively as possible cancer preventive agent. However, various carotenoids which co-exist with beta-carotene in vegetables and fruits also have anti-carcinogenic activity. And some of them, such as alpha-carotene, showed higher potency than beta-carotene to suppress experimental carcinogenesis. Thus, we have carried out more extensive studies on cancer preventive activities of natural carotenoids in foods; i.e., lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin. Analysis of the action mechanism of these natural carotenoids is now in progress, and some interesting results have already obtained; for example, beta-cryptoxanthin was suggested to stimulate the expression of RB gene, an anti-oncogene, and p73 gene, which is known as one of the p53-related genes. Based on these results, multi-carotenoids (mixture of natural carotenoids) seems to be of interest to evaluate its usefulness for practice in human cancer prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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