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Ann Epidemiol. 2009 Jul;19(7):512-8. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2009.03.017. Epub 2009 May 13.

Serum lycopene and the risk of cancer: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) study.

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Research Institute of Public Health, School of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.



Lycopene is thought to decrease the risk of cancers, although previous epidemiologic studies have produced inconsistent results. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the protective effect of lycopene against the risk of cancer.


The study population consisted of 997 middle-aged Finnish men in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) cohort. During the mean follow-up time of 12.6 years, a total of 141 cancer cases appeared, of which 55 were prostate cancers. The association between the serum concentrations of lycopene and the risk of cancer was studied using the Cox proportional hazard models.


An inverse association was observed between serum lycopene and overall cancer incidence. The adjusted risk ratio (RR) in the highest tertile of serum lycopene was 0.55 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.34-0.89; p=0.015) compared with the lowest serum lycopene group. No association was observed between the lycopene concentrations and a prostate cancer risk. RR for other cancers was 0.43 (95% CI, 0.23-0.79; p=0.007).


These findings suggest that in middle-aged men, the higher circulating concentrations of lycopene may contribute to the lower risk of cancer, with the exception of prostate cancer.

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