24 Mar
2009

No one would dispute the fact that the harsh chemicals and tar in cigarette smoke can injure and destroy lung tissue. Ultimately, the lungs lose their elasticity and their ability to bring in oxygen from the air. The result is emphysema. Now, some new research suggests that beta-carotene may help prevent emphysema. That’s encouraging news for active smokers, and passive smokers as well. (According to some studies, the levels of harmful chemicals in the blood of people who live in larger cities where the air isn’t very clean and who do not smoke—passive smokers—can amount to that of a one-pack-a-day active smoker).

While the research into the potential of beta-carotene as a way to prevent emphysema continues, many experts are recommending that anyone who smokes or who lives in an environment that is heavy with smoke and fumes should get ample amounts of beta-carotene.

Warning: Don’t Mix Beta-Carotene And Alcohol

Even though carotene is not considered toxic, new evidence indicates that it’s not a good idea to mix beta-carotene with alcohol. A recent study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York suggests that heavy drinkers who take beta-carotene supplements could develop liver problems.

According to the study, levels of beta-carotene normally considered safe or nontoxic can in fact become toxic when combined with alcohol. That’s because alcohol tends to inhibit the body’s usual ability to remove beta-carotene from the blood. The beta-carotene may then heighten whatever damage alcohol causes to the liver.

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