Objective: Intake of fruits and vegetables and levels of serum carotenoids have been associated with decreased risk of stroke, but the results have been inconsistent. The aim of the present study was to examine whether serum concentrations of major carotenoids, α-tocopherol and retinol, are related to any stroke and ischemic stroke in men.
Methods: The study population consisted of 1,031 Finnish men aged 46-65 years in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor cohort. Serum concentrations of carotenoids retinol and α-tocopherol were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. The association between the serum concentrations of lycopene α-carotene, β-carotene, α-tocopherol, and retinol and the risk of strokes was studied by using Cox proportional hazards models.
Results: A total of 67 strokes occurred, and 50 of these were ischemic strokes during a median of 12.1 follow-up years. After adjustment for age, examination year, BMI, systolic blood pressure, smoking, serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, diabetes, and history of stroke, men in the highest quartile of serum lycopene concentrations had 59% and 55% lower risks of ischemic stroke and any stroke, compared with men in the lowest quartile (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.25-0.95, p = 0.036 for any stroke and HR = 0.41; 95% CI 0.17-0.97, p = 0.042 for ischemic stroke). α-Carotene, β-carotene, α-tocopherol, and retinol were not related to the risk of strokes.
Conclusions: This prospective study shows that high serum concentrations of lycopene, as a marker of intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products, decrease the risk of any stroke and ischemic stroke in men.