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Int J Cancer. 1988 Aug 15;42(2):195-9.

Remission of oral leukoplakias and micronuclei in tobacco/betel quid chewers treated with beta-carotene and with beta-carotene plus vitamin A.

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Environmental Carcinogenesis Unit, British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, Vancouver, Canada.


Fishermen from Kerala (India) who chewed tobacco-containing betel quids daily (17.2 +/- 9.6 quids per day) and had well-developed oral leukoplakias with elevated frequencies of micronucleated cells participated in a short-term intervention trial. Beta-carotene (180 mg/week) (Group I), beta-carotene (180 mg/week) plus vitamin A (100,000 IU/week) (Group II), and placebo (Group III) capsules were given twice weekly for 6 months under strict supervision. The remission of oral leukoplakias, the inhibition of new leukoplakias, and the reduction of micronucleated oral mucosal cells were recorded at the 3rd and 6th months of the trial period. After 3 months, the frequency of micronucleated cells was significantly reduced in Group I (from 4.09% to 1.1% in areas of leukoplakia, and from 4.1% to 1.0% in the normal mucosa). At this time, remission of oral leukoplakias did not differ significantly from that observed in the placebo group. After 6 months of treatment, remission of leukoplakias in Group I (14.8%) and Group II (27.5%) differed significantly from that seen in Group III (3.0%). The development of new leukoplakias during the 6-month period was strongly inhibited in Group II (7.8%), and to a lesser degree in Group I (14.8%), as compared to Group III (21.2%). During the trial period, all participants continued to chew tobacco-containing betel quids in their accustomed manner. Thus, remission and inhibition of new oral leukoplakias and reduction of micronucleated mucosal cells occurred in the groups receiving beta-carotene and beta-carotene plus vitamin A during the continuous presence of carcinogens derived from tobacco and areca nut.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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