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Nutr Cancer. 2002;42(2):167-72.

Dietary carotenoid intake and colorectal cancer risk.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA. pterry@aecom.yu.edu


Several studies have found inverse associations between fruit and vegetable consumption and colorectal cancer risk, suggesting the potential etiological importance of carotenoids (and other phytochemicals) contained in these foods. However, only one study (a case-control study) has examined the association between dietary carotenoids other than beta-carotene and colorectal cancer risk. In the study reported here, we examined the relationships between dietary intakes of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and beta-cryptoxanthin and colorectal cancer risk in a large cohort study of Canadian women. A case-cohort analysis was undertaken within the cohort of 56,837 women who were enrolled in the Canadian National Breast Screening Study and who completed a self-administered dietary questionnaire. During follow-up to the end of 1993, a total of 388 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. For comparative purposes, a subcohort of 5,681 women was randomly selected. After exclusions for various reasons, the analyses were based on 295 cases and 5,334 noncases. We did not find any clear association between intake of any of the studied carotenoids and colorectal cancer risk in the study population as a whole or in subgroups defined by smoking status, relative body weight (body mass index), intakes of total fat, energy, alcohol, and folic acid, or menopausal status. Our data do not support any association between dietary intakes of the studied carotenoids and colorectal cancer risk. However, given that this is the first prospective cohort study of carotenoids in relation to colorectal cancer, further studies are warranted.

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