Vitamin A May Shield Former Smokers:

Chemical cousin restores key protein that protects against lung cancer.

A study published in 2005 reported that a chemical relative of vitamin A may help protect ex-smokers from lung cancer. Researchers found that giving a vitamin A derivative called 9-cis retinoic acid to former smokers had the effect of restoring production of a protein which is believed to protect against lung cancer. They found no evidence that three months of therapy with the vitamin A derivative restored health to cells that were already precancerous. But their research indicates that "chemoprevention" of future lung cancer may be possible.

The best natural sources for vitamin A are livers, especially fish liver and fish-liver oil, whole milk, cheese and eggs. Vitamin A does not exist in plants. However, leafy green and yellow vegetables and yellow fruits contain a pigment called carotene, which the liver can convert into Vitamin A. Among the best sources of carotene are dandelion and turnip greens, carrots, collards, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and apricots.

Smoking Infographic

To restore energy production to damaged cells in the lungs and relax bronchial airways, the following nutrients are suggested:

  • Coenzyme Q10: assists in cellular respiration and acts as an antioxidant
  • Lipoic acid: functions as a cofactor in energy production, acts as a free radical scavenger, and helps regenerate the effects of other antioxidants
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine: transports lipids into the mitochondria to be used in the production of cellular energy
  • NADH: a reduced form of vitamin B3 essential for energy production
  • Taurine: may improve breathlessness and increase cardiac blood flow
  • Magnesium: is a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and relaxes bronchial muscles
  • Potassium: weakness and fatigue are symptoms of deficiency.

You can have your blood tested to see whether you have relevant deficiencies.

Reference: University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, reported in Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Editor's Note: There was another study indicating that supplementing with betacarotene may increase the chances of getting lung cancer for smokers. For now, the answer may be to supplement with vitamin A palmitate. See an excellent source of vitamin A. However, the understanding that vitamin A