Long-term supplementation with alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene and prevalence of oral mucosal lesions in smokers

Oral Dis. 1998 Jun;4(2):78-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.1998.tb00261.x.


Objective: To assess the effect of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplementation on the prevalence of oral mucosal lesions in smokers.

Design: An end-point examination of a random sample of participants in a controlled trial for 5-7 years (Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study) in Helsinki, Finland.

Subjects: A total of 409 white male cigarette smokers, aged 55-74 years who received either alpha-tocopherol (50 mg per day) or beta-carotene (20 mg per day) supplementation, both of these or placebo capsules.

Methods: Clinical examination of oral mucosae, histological examination of lesions showing leukoplakia and cytological examination of buccal epithelium. Statistical analysis using Fisher's exact test.

Results: No statistically significant differences were found between the study groups either in the prevalence of oral mucosal lesions or in the cells of unkeratinized epithelium. Leukoplakia was present in 24 (5.9%) of the subjects. Seven lesions showed dysplasia.

Conclusion: The present study on oral health does not support the hypothesis that alpha-tocopherol or beta-carotene supplementation plays an essential role in preventing oral mucosal changes in smokers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / etiology
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Diseases / etiology
  • Mouth Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use*
  • beta Carotene / therapeutic use*


  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin E