The Cancer Research
Carrots’ cancer fighting potential comes from being a non-starchy vegetable as well as a source of carotenoids and other phytochemicals. Beta-carotene is the carotenoid that has received the most attention, but research into carrot’s other compounds and carrots as a whole are underway.
What Current Evidence Shows: AICR/WCRF’s Expert Report and its Updates (CUP)
Carrots are a non-starchy vegetable that contain fiber and carotenoids. After a systematic review of the global scientific literature, AICR/WCRF weighed the strength of the evidence linking these factors to lower risk for several cancers.
|Diets high in:||CONVINCINGLY lower risk of the following cancers:|
|Foods containing dietary fiber||Colorectal|
|Diets high in:||PROBABLY lower risk of the following cancers:|
|Non-starchy vegetables||Mouth, larynx, pharynx|
|Carotenoids||Mouth, larynx, pharynx
Source: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective and the Continuous Update Project (CUP) reports.
Open Areas of Investigation: Laboratory Research
In addition to their roles as antioxidants, beta-carotene and alpha-carotene promote cell-to-cell communication, which seems important in maintaining normal control of cell growth.
Luteolin and falcarinol, also found in carrots, decrease cancer cell growth and increase cancer cell death in cell and animal studies.
Open Areas of Investigation: Human Studies
Population studies link foods rich in total carotenoids with lower risk of lung cancer. Larger studies now show protection less clearly than earlier studies; additional research is needed. Several population studies link higher dietary carotenoids, and especially higher blood levels of carotenoids, with lower risk of some types of breast cancer. Because higher blood levels of carotenoids indicate higher vegetable and fruit consumption, these other plant foods and their healthful compounds may play a role.
Limited population studies tentatively link higher amounts of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene in people’s diet and especially their blood levels with modestly lower risk of breast, along with several other cancers. However, beta-carotene in high-dose supplements, especially in smokers, seems to increase lung cancer risk and mortality. Further research is underway in all these areas.
Looking beyond carotenoids, limited population studies of carrots specifically link them with potentially lower risk of lung, cervical, and prostate cancers.