Vitamin A, retinoids and carotenoids as chemopreventive agents for prostate cancer

Alan R. Kristal, Elizabeth A. Platz, Howard L. Parnes, Demetrius Albanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: Evidence is examined for the use of vitamin A, retinoids and carotenoids as chemopreventive agents for prostate cancer. Materials and Methods: Studies in in vitro and animal experimental models as well as in human observational (epidemiologic) and experimental studies are reviewed. Results: There is little evidence that dietary vitamin A is associated with prostate cancer risk and, thus, it is unlikely that vitamin A or retinyl palmitate, the form most often used in dietary supplements, would be useful as chemoprevention agents. Several pharmaceutical formulations of retinoids show cancer prevention properties in animal experimental models but their high toxicity makes them unlikely candidates for cancer prevention. There is also currently no evidence that dietary carotenoids (except for lycopene and possibly other bioactive compounds found in tomato products) will be useful for prostate cancer prevention. Epidemiological and experimental studies show no association of β-carotene with prostate cancer risk. There is inconsistent though intriguing evidence from epidemiological studies that tomato products and/or lycopene is associated with reduced prostate cancer risk. However, animal experimental studies of lycopene and prostate cancer are not strongly supportive, and the results of human experimental studies are not interpretable due to poor design. Conclusions: There is currently no evidence that vitamin A, synthetic retinoids or carotenoids can be used as prostate cancer chemopreventive agents. Experimental studies are needed to determine whether lycopene or other compounds in tomatoes have chemopreventive properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S54-S58
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Carotenoids
  • Chemoprevention
  • Prostatic neoplasms
  • Retinoids
  • Vitamin A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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