Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Using beta-carotene for skin, is it safe?"
I was contemplating using beta-carotene to enhance my skin, as I avoid the sun. However, I have read about the negative side effects of the compound for smokers at a dose of around 30mg. I would be taking a dose of 15mg. My concern is that I suffered second-hand smoke at home for ten years while growing up but have been free of such for the past six years (I also have exercise-induced asthma because of it). Would it be safe for me to take beta-carotene? Thank you.
I recommend you discuss this supplement with your primary care doctor. In general, it is not possible to determine which supplements are safe or pose a specific danger without knowing the full details of your medical history. Supplements are not tightly controlled by the FDA. A recent study has shown that many supplements do not actually contain the product they profess to contain. In some cases, they contain known toxins. As such, I do not generally recommend taking supplements that are not specifically recommended by your physician. Beta-carotene in particular has received quite a bit of negative press in past years. Specifically, beta-carotene is associated with an increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular events in those with exposure to smoke or asbestos. These studies did not specifically study second-hand smoke. However, given the known dangerous side effects of beta-carotene with no proven benefits, I see little benefit and potential serious harm in taking this supplement, even at a decreased dose. Again, I recommend you discuss this with your physician, as well. Additionally, if there is a specific concern you have about your skin, your physician can help determine if there is a skin disease causing this issue.
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