High dietary antioxidant intakes are associated with decreased chromosome translocation frequency in airline pilots

Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Nov;90(5):1402-10. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28207. Epub 2009 Sep 30.


Background: Dietary antioxidants may protect against DNA damage induced by endogenous and exogenous sources, including ionizing radiation (IR), but data from IR-exposed human populations are limited.

Objective: The objective was to examine the association between the frequency of chromosome translocations, as a biomarker of cumulative DNA damage, and intakes of vitamins C and E and carotenoids in 82 male airline pilots.

Design: Dietary intakes were estimated by using a self-administered semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire. Translocations were scored by using fluorescence in situ hybridization with whole chromosome paints. Negative binomial regression was used to estimate rate ratios and 95% CIs, adjusted for potential confounders.

Results: Significant and inverse associations were observed between translocation frequency and intakes of vitamin C, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein-zeaxanthin from food (P < 0.05). Translocation frequency was not associated with the intake of vitamin E, alpha-carotene, or lycopene from food; total vitamin C or E from food and supplements; or vitamin C or E or multivitamin supplements. The adjusted rate ratios (95% CI) for > or =median compared with <median servings per week of high-vitamin C fruit and vegetables, citrus fruit, and green leafy vegetables were 0.61 (0.43, 0.86), 0.64 (0.46, 0.89), and 0.59 (0.43, 0.81), respectively. The strongest inverse association was observed for > or =median compared with <median combined intakes of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein-zeaxanthin from food: 0.27 (0.14, 0.55).

Conclusion: High combined intakes of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein-zeaxanthin from food, or a diet high in their food sources, may protect against cumulative DNA damage in IR-exposed persons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aircraft
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology
  • Chromosomes, Human / drug effects
  • Chromosomes, Human / genetics
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Occupations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Translocation, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Vegetables
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage


  • Antioxidants
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • alpha-carotene
  • Ascorbic Acid