Dietary carotenoids and risk of colorectal cancer in a pooled analysis of 11 cohort studies

Satu Männistö, Shiaw Shyuan Yaun, David J. Hunter, Donna Spiegelman, Hans Olov Adami, Demetrius Albanes, Piet A. Van Den Brandt, Julie E. Buring, James R. Cerhan, Graham A. Colditz, Jo L. Freudenheim, Charles S. Fuchs, Edward Giovannucci, R. Alexandra Goldbohm, Lisa Harnack, Michael Leitzmann, Marjorie L. McCullough, Anthony B. Miller, Thomas E. Rohan, Arthur SchatzkinJarmo Virtamo, Walter C. Willett, Alicja Wolk, Shumin M. Zhang, Stephanie A. Smith-Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Dietary carotenoids have been hypothesized to protect against epithelial cancers. The authors analyzed the associations between intakes of specific carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein + zeaxanthin, and lycopene) and risk of colorectal cancer using the primary data from 11 cohort studies carried out in North America and Europe. Carotenoid intakes were estimated from food frequency questionnaires administered at baseline in each study. During 6-20 years of follow-up between 1980 and 2003, 7,885 incident cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed among 702,647 participants. The authors calculated study-specific multivariate relative risks and then combined them using a random-effects model. In general, intakes of specific carotenoids were not associated with colorectal cancer risk. The pooled multivariate relative risks of colorectal cancer comparing the highest quintile of intake with the lowest ranged from 0.92 for lutein + zeaxanthin to 1.04 for lycopene; only for lutein + zeaxanthin intake was the result borderline statistically significant (95% confidence interval: 0.84, 1.00). The associations observed were generally similar across studies, for both sexes, and for colon cancer and rectal cancer. These pooled data did not suggest that carotenoids play an important role in the etiology of colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-255
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by research grants CA55075 and CA78548 from the National Cancer Institute, by US Public Health Service contracts N01 CN45165 and N01 CN45035 from the National Cancer Institute, and by the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance. Additional support was provided by research grants from the Juho Vainio Foundation (2005), the Paulo Foundation (2005), and the Academy of Finland (grant 213829).


  • Carotenoids
  • Cohort studies
  • Colonic neoplasms
  • Colorectal neoplasms
  • Diet
  • Meta-analysis
  • Rectal neoplasms


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