Plasma levels of antioxidant beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol in uterine cervix dysplasias and cancer.


Palan PR, Mikhail MS, Basu J, Romney SL




Nutr Cancer


Chronic human health problems, namely arteriosclerosis, myocardial ischemia, and cancer, may be caused by highly active oxygen species and may be preventable by antioxidant vitamins. In humans, the sources of two major antioxidants, beta-carotene and alpha- tocopherol, are dietary. In this study, we measured the plasma concentrations of beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol by reverse-phase high-pressure liquid chromatography in a cross-sectional sampling of 116 women. Significantly reduced plasma levels of beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol were observed in women with histopathologically diagnosed cervical dysplasias or cancer (p less than 0.0001 and p less than 0.005, respectively). There was an inverse association between the plasma levels of both beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol and increasingly severe graded cervical histopathology. In groups with advanced dysplasias, the percentage of smokers was markedly increased and the women were comparatively older (p less than 0.0001). A strong association was noted between smoking status and plasma beta-carotene levels, independent of cervical pathology. However, this was not evident with respect to alpha-tocopherol. The findings suggest that the antioxidants beta-carotene and alpha- tocopherol have biologic functions that are interdependent in the pathogenesis of cervical intraepithelial lesions and cervical cancer.