Intake of dietary provitamin A (carotene) was inversely related to the 19-year incidence of lung cancer in a prospective epidemiological study of 1954 middle-aged men. The relative risks of lung cancer in the first (lowest) to fourth quartiles of the distribution of carotene intake were respectively, 7·0, 5· 5, 3.0, and 1.0 for all men in the study, and 8· 1, 5.6, 3.9, and 1.0 for men who had smoked cigarettes for 30 or more years. Intake of preformed vitamin A (retinol) and intake of other nutrients were not significantly related to the risk of lung cancer. Neither carotene nor retinol intake was significantly related to the risk of other carcinomas grouped together, although for men in whom epidermoid carcinomas of the head and neck subsequently developed, carotene intake tended to be below average. These results support the hypothesis that dietary beta-carotene decreases the risk of lung cancer. However, cigarette smoking also increases the risk of serious diseases other than lung cancer, and there is no evidence that dietary carotenoids affect these other risks in any way.
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