Protective role of butylated hydroxytoluene and certain carotenoids in photocarcinogenesis

Photochem Photobiol. 1991 May;53(5):707-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.1991.tb08501.x.


Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and certain carotenoid pigments have been found to inhibit photocarcinogenesis in animal models. In addition, BHT protects against UV-B-induced erythema and UV-B induction of ornithine decarboxylase. Studies on the photoprotective mechanism(s) of BHT suggested that changes in the physico-chemical properties of the keratin of the stratum corneum layer of skin occurred, leading to increases in UV absorption of that tissue. These changes might be exerted via the anti-radical action of BHT that retards oxidation and prevents cross-linking of the keratin chains, resulting in a diminution of UV-B radiation reaching potential target sites. The carotenoids beta-carotene, canthaxanthin and phytoene also inhibit UV-B carcinogenesis. beta-Carotene and canthaxanthin are excellent quenchers of singlet oxygen, and all three pigments can quench free radicals. beta-Carotene and canthaxanthin have been shown to quench singlet oxygen/free radical reactions in the skin of porphyric mice, and these two pigments as well as phytoene have been found to quench excited species formed on irradiation of mouse skin by UV-B.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents*
  • Butylated Hydroxytoluene / therapeutic use*
  • Carotenoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Butylated Hydroxytoluene
  • Carotenoids