Dietary antioxidant supplementation and DNA damage in smokers and nonsmokers

Nutr Cancer. 1999;34(2):167-72. doi: 10.1207/S15327914NC3402_7.


Deficiencies of antioxidant nutrients have been implicated in the etiology of lung and other cancers. However, most intervention trials with antioxidant nutrients have not shown beneficial effects, and some have indicated that beta-carotene may be deleterious. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated the effects of five short-term (4-wk) antioxidant nutrient supplement regimens [ascorbic acid (350 mg), RRR-alpha-tocopherol (250 mg), beta-carotene (60 mg), selenium (80 micrograms as sodium selenite), ascorbic acid (350 mg) + RRR-alpha-tocopherol (250 mg)] on plasma antioxidants and mononuclear leukocyte DNA damage in male smokers (n = 9) and nonsmokers (n = 12). Plasma concentrations of ascorbic acid and tocopherol were significantly increased by supplementation, but there was no significant change in plasma beta-carotene or blood glutathione peroxidase activity after supplementation with beta-carotene or selenium. DNA damage in mononuclear leukocytes, as assessed by comet assay, was not affected by any supplementation regimen. DNA damage, as assessed by 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine in mononuclear leukocytes, was not influenced by ascorbic acid, alpha-tocopherol, or selenium supplementation in smokers or nonsmokers, but beta-carotene supplementation resulted in significant differences between smokers and nonsmokers in the level of oxidative DNA damage, with decreases in smokers and increases in smokers. This is a further indication of the differential effects of supplemental beta-carotene in smokers and nonsmokers.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA Damage*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / adverse effects*


  • Antioxidants