Antioxidant micronutrients and breast cancer

J Am Coll Nutr. 1993 Aug;12(4):400-11. doi: 10.1080/07315724.1993.10718329.


We reviewed epidemiologic evidence on the relationship between four antioxidant micronutrients (vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium) and breast cancer risk. Available data support a modest protective effect of vitamin A, although more studies are needed to examine further this association and to assess the relative contributions of preformed vitamin A (retinol) and carotenoids. In addition, the possibility that some other component of vitamin A-rich foods may account for this observed association should be explored. Data on the relationship between vitamins C and E and breast cancer risk are limited and inconsistent, and further information is necessary. A substantial body of evidence indicates a lack of any appreciable effect of selenium intake on breast cancer risk, at least within the range of human diets. Future observational studies should ideally be prospective in design, as prospective studies are less prone to selection and recall bias than are case-control studies, and should address methodologic issues such as confounding by other micronutrients and appropriate storage conditions of blood specimens. Although hypotheses relating micronutrient intake to risk of breast cancer should be tested in randomized trials, ethical and logistical constraints make these studies difficult to perform.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Selenium* / administration & dosage
  • Selenium* / blood
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin A / blood
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / blood
  • Vitamins* / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins* / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Selenium
  • Ascorbic Acid