Dietary intakes of vitamins A, C, and E and risk of melanoma in two cohorts of women

Br J Cancer. 2003 May 6;88(9):1381-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6600882.


Within the two Nurses' Health Study cohorts of US women, we examined whether higher intakes of vitamin C, vitamin E, retinol, or individual tocopherols or carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of melanoma. We confirmed 414 cases of invasive melanoma among over 162,000 Caucasian women aged 25-77 years during more than 1.6 million person-years of follow-up. Diet was measured every 4 years with a food frequency questionnaire and supplement use was reported every 2 years. Several measures of sun sensitivity were assessed and included in proportional hazards models. We found that vitamins A, C, E and their individual components were not associated with a lower risk of melanoma. Only retinol intake from foods plus supplements appeared protective within a subgroup of women who were otherwise at low risk based on nondietary factors (relative risk (RR)=0.39, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.22-0.71 for >/=1,800 vs 400 microg day(-1), P for linear trend=0.01). Contrary to expectation, we observed higher risks of melanoma with greater intakes of vitamin C from food only (RR=1.43, 95% CI 1.01-2.00 for >/=175 vs <90 mg day(-1), P for linear trend=0.05) and a significant positive dose-response with frequency of orange juice consumption (P=0.008). Further research is needed to determine whether another component in foods such as orange juice may contribute to an increase in risk.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ascorbic Acid*
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Melanoma / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Vitamin A*
  • Vitamin E*


  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Ascorbic Acid