Smoking decreases both your blood concentrations and body stores of beta-carotene and other carotenoids. This depletion may be due to the increased need for antioxidants to try to repair some of the damage being done by toxic cigarette smoke and the free radicals it generates.
Given this, a smoker trying to lessen the free radical impact of their smoking might use high doses of supplemental antioxidants. Unfortunately, there’s been some research suggesting synthetic beta-carotene supplements in dose of 20 mg a day or higher may actually increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers, particularly those who drink alcohol as well (Alpha Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene [ATBC] Prevention Trial).
Larger studies, running between 7 and 16 years, involving nearly 400,000 people in America and Europe, found no increase in the risk of lung cancer for smokers or non-smokers from natural beta-carotene and other carotenoids found in foods (Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention – January and February 2004].
With its antioxidant properties, natural beta-carotene seems more likely to be preventative against cancer, including lung cancer. However, the same may not be true for synthetic beta-carotene in high doses.
On a related note (which I’m aware may annoy a few people, but I say this as I would say it to a friend), if you are a smoker, what are you doing to yourself and those around you? Quit. It may not be easy, but it is that simple. You must know it looks pretty dumb these days and the damage to your health and energy is horrendous.
When I was younger and easily influenced I smoked on and off for several months before waking up and realizing how stupid it was. It made me feel sick, tired and often unable to breathe properly. I can honestly say that the supposed calming effect is much less than taking simple 5-HTP or tryptophan. And the money wasted on cigarettes, even for that short time, was ridiculous.
Have a look at one of the statistically most successful approaches to letting go of smoking (at probably less than a hundredth of the cost of a year’s smoking) and start saving your money, health and energy and probably your life.
Photo credit with thanks: SuperFantastic