Diet and basal cell carcinoma of the skin in a prospective cohort of men

Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jan;71(1):135-41. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/71.1.135.


Background: Low intake of fat and high intake of specific vitamins have been hypothesized to reduce risk of basal cell carcinoma of the skin (BCC).

Objective: Our objective was to examine intakes of fat, antioxidant nutrients, retinol, folate, and vitamin D in relation to risk of BCC.

Design: In 1986, diet was assessed by a validated food-frequency questionnaire in 43217 male participants of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study who were 40-75 y of age and free of cancer. During 8 y of follow-up, we ascertained 3190 newly diagnosed cases of BCC.

Results: Total fat consumption was associated with a lower risk of BCC [relative risk (RR): 0.81; 95% CI: 0.72, 0.90 for the highest compared with the lowest quintile of intake; P for trend < 0.001). Simultaneous modeling of specific fatty acids suggested that this inverse association was limited to monounsaturated fat (RR: 0.79; 95% CI: 0.65, 0.96; P for trend = 0. 02); saturated and polyunsaturated fat were not associated with BCC risk. Folate intake was associated with a slightly higher risk of BCC (RR: 1.19; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.40; P for trend = 0.11), whereas alpha-carotene was associated with a slightly lower risk (RR: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.79, 0.99; P for trend = 0.01). Intakes of long-chain n-3 fatty acids, retinol, vitamin C, vitamin D, or vitamin E were not materially related to BCC risk.

Conclusions: These findings do not support the hypothesis that diets low in fat or high in specific vitamins lower risk of BCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / prevention & control*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Vitamins