Citrus fruit and cancer risk in a network of case-control studies

Cancer Causes Control. 2010 Feb;21(2):237-42. doi: 10.1007/s10552-009-9454-4. Epub 2009 Oct 24.


Background: Citrus fruit has shown a favorable effect against various cancers. To better understand their role in cancer risk, we analyzed data from a series of case-control studies conducted in Italy and Switzerland.

Patients and methods: The studies included 955 patients with oral and pharyngeal cancer, 395 with esophageal, 999 with stomach, 3,634 with large bowel, 527 with laryngeal, 2,900 with breast, 454 with endometrial, 1,031 with ovarian, 1,294 with prostate, and 767 with renal cell cancer. All cancers were incident and histologically confirmed. Controls were admitted to the same network of hospitals for acute, nonneoplastic conditions. Odds ratios (OR) were estimated by multiple logistic regression models, including terms for major identified confounding factors for each cancer site, and energy intake.

Results: The ORs for the highest versus lowest category of citrus fruit consumption were 0.47 (95% confidence interval, CI, 0.36-0.61) for oral and pharyngeal, 0.42 (95% CI, 0.25-0.70) for esophageal, 0.69 (95% CI, 0.52-0.92) for stomach, 0.82 (95% CI, 0.72-0.93) for colorectal, and 0.55 (95% CI, 0.37-0.83) for laryngeal cancer. No consistent association was found with breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, and renal cell cancer.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that citrus fruit has a protective role against cancers of the digestive and upper respiratory tract.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Citrus / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Switzerland / epidemiology


  • Plant Extracts