Am J Epidemiol 2007 Feb 11;165(3):246-55. Epub 2006 Dec 11.
National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.
Dietary carotenoids have been hypothesized to protect against epithelial cancers. The authors analyzed the associations between intakes of specific carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein + zeaxanthin, and lycopene) and risk of colorectal cancer using the primary data from 11 cohort studies carried out in North America and Europe. Carotenoid intakes were estimated from food frequency questionnaires administered at baseline in each study. During 6-20 years of follow-up between 1980 and 2003, 7,885 incident cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed among 702,647 participants. The authors calculated study-specific multivariate relative risks and then combined them using a random-effects model. In general, intakes of specific carotenoids were not associated with colorectal cancer risk. The pooled multivariate relative risks of colorectal cancer comparing the highest quintile of intake with the lowest ranged from 0.92 for lutein + zeaxanthin to 1.04 for lycopene; only for lutein + zeaxanthin intake was the result borderline statistically significant (95% confidence interval: 0.84, 1.00). The associations observed were generally similar across studies, for both sexes, and for colon cancer and rectal cancer. These pooled data did not suggest that carotenoids play an important role in the etiology of colorectal cancer.