Serologic precursors of cancer. Retinol, carotenoids, and tocopherol and risk of prostate cancer

J Natl Cancer Inst. 1990 Jun 6;82(11):941-6. doi: 10.1093/jnci/82.11.941.


We investigated the associations of serum retinol, the carotenoids beta-carotene and lycopene, and tocopherol (vitamin E) with the risk of prostate cancer in a nested case-control study. For the study, serum obtained in 1974 from 25,802 persons in Washington County, MD, was used. Serum levels of the nutrients in 103 men who developed prostate cancer during the subsequent 13 years were compared with levels in 103 control subjects matched for age and race. Although no significant associations were observed with beta-carotene, lycopene, or tocopherol, the data suggested an inverse relationship between serum retinol and risk of prostate cancer. We analyzed data on the distribution of serum retinol by quartiles, using the lowest quartile as the reference value. Odds ratios were 0.67, 0.39, and 0.40 for the second, third, and highest quartiles, respectively.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carotenoids / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / analysis
  • Risk
  • Vitamin A / blood*
  • Vitamin E / blood*
  • beta Carotene


  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • alpha-carotene
  • Lycopene