Study finds a decrease in deaths caused by heart disease in older men with a high intake of alpha and beta-carotene

February 05, 2008

Scientists at Wageningen University in The Netherlands examined data on 559 men with an average age of 72 years old who were followed for 15 years. They were free of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer at the beginning of the study. Information on dietary intake collected in 1985, 1990, and 1995 was analyzed for intake levels of carotenoids, vitamin C, tocopherols, and other nutrients.
At the end of the follow-up period, there were 89 deaths from ischemic heart disease, 52 deaths from stroke, and 56 from other cardiovascular causes. The researchers found a reduction in cardiovascular deaths associated with alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as for carrots, an abundant source of these nutrients. In their discussion of the findings, the authors remark that both alpha and beta-carotene are important antioxidants, and that circulating carotenoids are associated with a reduction in inflammation and improved endothelial function meaning better blood flow, improved cardiovascular health, and a decreased risk of developing hardening of the arteries.

The tiniest particles of air pollution may be particularly bad for the heart

A new study links ultrafine particles from traffic to worse hardening of the arteries in an animal study and they "may constitute a significant cardiovascular risk factor," according to Jesus Araujo, MD, PhD, of UCLA. The team studied air pollution and atherosclerosis in a mobile lab near a Los Angeles highway. They piped outside air into the lab, filtering it to varying degrees for three groups of mice.
One group breathed air laced with ultrafine particles. A second group breathed air containing ultrafine and larger particles. The third group breathed air free of particles. The study lasted for 40 days. During that time, mice breathing air that only contained ultrafine particles developed the worst atherosclerosis. The tiny particles had a big impact on health. The mice that also breathed bigger particulates also got atherosclerosis, but it wasn't as severe. Ultrafine particulates also hampered HDL; the good cholesterol, from fighting inflammation, the study shows. The findings appear online ahead of print in the journal Cardiovascular Research.