Intake of the major carotenoids and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer in a pooled analysis of 10 cohort studies

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Carotenoids, found in fruits and vegetables, have the potential to protect against cancer because of their properties, including their functions as precursors to vitamin A and as antioxidants. We examined the associations between intakes of α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin and lycopene and the risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer. The primary data from 10 prospective cohort studies in North America and Europe were analyzed and then pooled. Carotenoid intakes were estimated from a validated food frequency questionnaire administered at baseline in each study. Study-specific relative risks (RR) were estimated using the Cox proportional hazards model and then combined using a random-effects model. Among 521,911 women, 2,012 cases of ovarian cancer occurred during a follow-up of 7–22 years across studies. The major carotenoids were not significantly associated with the risk of ovarian cancer. The pooled multivariate RRs (95% confidence intervals) were 1.00 (0.95–1.05) for a 600 μg/day increase in α-carotene intake, 0.96 (0.93–1.03) for a 2,500 μg/day increase in β-carotene intake, 0.99 (0.97–1.02) for a 100 μg/day increase in β-cryptoxanthin intake, 0.98 (0.94–1.03) for a 2,500 μg/day increase in lutein/zeaxanthin intake and 1.01 (0.97–1.05) for a 4,000 μg/day increase in lycopene intake. These associations did not appreciably differ by study (p-values, tests for between-studies heterogeneity >0.17). Also, the observed associations did not vary substantially by subgroups of the population or by histological type of ovarian cancer. These results suggest that consumption of the major carotenoids during adulthood does not play a major role in the incidence of ovarian cancer.

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