Mineral intake and lung cancer risk in the NIH-American Association of Retired Persons Diet and Health study

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Aug;19(8):1976-83. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-10-0067.


Background: Using data from a case-control study, we previously reported that low dietary intakes of magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), but not selenium (Se) and calcium (Ca), were associated with increased lung cancer risk. Due to dietary recall bias in case-control studies, our objective was to assess whether these findings hold in a prospective cohort study.

Methods: We analyzed data from the NIH-American Association of Retired Persons Diet and Health study of 482,875 subjects (288,257 men and 194,618 women) who were cancer-free and completed a food frequency questionnaire at enrollment between 1995 and 2003. Cox proportional hazards models were computed to estimate the relative risk adjusted for potential confounders.

Results: During a mean follow-up of 7 years, 7,052 lung cancer cases were identified. For all subjects, we observed no significant associations between total (diet + supplement) Ca, Mg, Fe, Cu, Se, and Zn intakes and lung cancer risk. Total Ca intake was protective (P trend < 0.05) for current smokers and subjects with adenocarcinomas. Total Mg intake increased risk (P trend < 0.05) in men and current smokers. Total Fe intake was inversely associated with risk in women (P trend < 0.01). For dietary minerals, Mg increased risk (P trend < 0.05) in all subjects, among men and current smokers. Increased dietary Ca intake reduced risk in women (P trend = 0.05). Dietary Fe decreased risk in all subjects and among women (P trend < 0.05). Mineral intake from supplements did not affect lung cancer risk.

Conclusions: Dietary minerals are risk factors for lung cancer.

Impact: Dietary mineral consumption may influence lung cancer risk, but the associations differ by type of mineral and population subgroups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minerals / adverse effects*
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States


  • Minerals