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Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jan;83(1):163-9.

Modification of lymphocyte DNA damage by carotenoid supplementation in postmenopausal women.

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Jean Mayer USDA-Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.



Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic diseases related to aging such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Carotenoids could be a part of a protective strategy to minimize oxidative damage in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly.


Our aim was to determine the protective effect of carotenoids against DNA damage.


A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention study was conducted. Thirty-seven healthy, nonsmoking postmenopausal women aged 50-70 y were randomly assigned to 1 of 5 groups and were instructed to consume a daily dose of mixed carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene; 4 mg each), 12 mg of a single carotenoid (beta-carotene, lutein, or lycopene), or placebo for 56 d. Plasma carotenoid concentrations were analyzed by using HPLC, and lymphocyte DNA damage was measured by using a single-cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay.


At day 57, all carotenoid-supplemented groups showed significantly lower endogenous DNA damage than at baseline (P < 0.01), whereas the placebo group did not show any significant change. Significantly less (P < 0.05) endogenous DNA damage was found as early as day 15 in the mixed carotenoid (P < 0.01) and beta-carotene (P < 0.05) groups.


The results indicate that carotenoid supplementation decreases DNA damage and that a combination of carotenoids (4 mg each of lutein, beta-carotene, and lycopene), an intake that can be achieved by diet, or a larger dose (12 mg) of individual carotenoids exerts protection against DNA damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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