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Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1 Suppl):260S-264S.

Prediagnostic serum levels of carotenoids and vitamin E as related to subsequent cancer in Washington County, Maryland.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD.


In 1974 and 1975, serum specimens were collected from 25,802 volunteers in Washington County, Maryland. The serum was kept frozen at -73 degrees C until the time of assay. Prediagnostic samples from 436 cancer cases and 765 matched control subjects have been assayed. Nine sites have been studied: colon, rectum, pancreas, lung, melanoma, basal cell of skin, breast, prostate, and bladder. Serum beta-carotene levels showed a strong protective association with lung cancer, suggestive protective associations with melanoma and bladder cancer, and a suggestive but nonprotective association with rectal cancer. Serum vitamin E levels had a protective association with lung cancer; none of the other sites showed impressive associations. Low levels of serum lycopene were strongly associated with pancreatic cancer and less strongly associated with cancer of the bladder and rectum.

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