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Plasma retinol, carotene and vitamin E concentrations and lung function in a crocidolite-exposed cohort from Wittenoom, Western Australia: a cohort study

Helman S Alfonso12*, Lin Fritschi1, Nicholas H de Klerk14, Gina Ambrosini1, John Beilby5, Nola Olsen1 and A William Musk13

Author Affiliations

1 School of Population Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

2 School of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia

3 Department of Respiratory Medicine, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

4 Department of Biostatistics and Genetic Epidemiology, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

5 Clinical Biochemistry, PathCentre, Western Australia

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Nutrition Journal 2005, 4:16  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-4-16

Published: 11 May 2005



Increased rates of death from asbestos related diseases have been reported for people previously employed in the mining and milling operations at Wittenoom (Western Australia), and people who lived in the nearby town, where they were environmentally exposed to crocidolite.


Annual measurements of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) and plasma concentrations of retinol, carotene and vitamin E have been made since 1992. Mixed effects models were used to examine the associations between lung function and the plasma vitamin levels of retinol, carotene and vitamin E.


After adjusting for potential confounders, higher plasma retinol and carotene concentrations were significantly associated with higher levels of lung function at entry into the study, while vitamin E concentrations were associated with lower entry lung function. Retinol was associated with a less steep decline of lung function over time, while carotene concentrations were associated with an increased decline of lung function over time and vitamin E levels were not associated with changes of lung function over time.


These results support a beneficial relationship between plasma concentrations of retinol on the levels and rates of change of lung function, while showing no such consistent beneficial effect for plasma levels of beta-carotene or vitamin E.