The Scientific Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) was asked to review existing data on the possible link between the ingestion of β-carotene and cancer enhancement in heavy smokers and to provide advice on a daily intake of β-carotene that does not give rise to concerns about adverse health effects in heavy smokers.
A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCT) investigating β-carotene supplementation and cancer risk (Druesne-Pecollo et al., 2010)
has been taken into account. Those data showed :
– absence of any protective effect associated with β-carotene supplementation with regard to primary cancer risk
– an increased risk of lung cancers in individuals supplemented with β-carotene at dose levels equal to or greater than 20 mg/day
– no increased lung cancer incidence in heavy smokers at supplemental dose levels of β-carotene varying from 6 – 15 mg/day for about 5 up to 7 years.
The Panel concluded that exposure to β-carotene from its use as food additive and as food supplement at a level below 15 mg/day do not give rise to concerns about adverse health effects in the general population, including heavy smokers.
New EFSA’s statement on the safety of β-carotene use in heavy smokers
EFSA Journal 2012;10(12):2953. [7 pp.]