Risk of human ovarian cancer is related to dietary intake of selected nutrients, phytochemicals and food groups

J Nutr. 2003 Jun;133(6):1937-42. doi: 10.1093/jn/133.6.1937.


Intakes of specific nutrients and food groups have been shown previously to be related to ovarian cancer risk, but no studies, to our knowledge, have emphasized the effect of phytochemical intakes on this cancer. We conducted a case-control study of diet and ovarian cancer in western New York involving 124 primary, histologically confirmed ovarian cancer cases and 696 population-based controls, frequency matched to cases on age and county of residence. Diet was assessed with a detailed food-frequency questionnaire. Nutrient and phytochemical intakes were calculated from published food composition data. The odds ratios (OR) and 95% CI for risk of ovarian cancer with each nutrient, phytochemical and food group were estimated with unconditional logistic regression adjusting for age, education, total months menstruating, difficulty becoming pregnant, oral contraceptive use, menopausal status and energy intake. Compared with women in the lowest quintile of intake, reduced risks were observed for women in the highest quintile of intake of dietary fiber (OR 0.43, 95% CI, 0.20-0.94), total carotenoids (OR 0.33, 95% CI, 0.16-0.68), stigmasterol (OR 0.42, 95% CI, 0.20-0.87), total lignans (OR 0.43, 95% CI, 0.21-0.85), vegetables (OR 0.47, 95% CI, 0.23-0.97) and poultry (OR 0.45, 95% CI, 0.22-0.92). These results support a protective effect on ovarian cancer of phytoestrogen intakes, and our results support the hypothesis that a plant-based diet may be important in reducing risks of hormone-related neoplasms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Phytosterols / administration & dosage
  • Plant Preparations
  • Poultry
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vegetables


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Isoflavones
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Phytosterols
  • Plant Preparations
  • Carotenoids