Carotenoids are abundant pigments mainly contained in vegetables and fruits, and show antioxidant properties by quenching free radicals in human body. Few studies have investigated associations between serum carotenoid levels and premature mortality. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between serum carotenoid level and premature mortality in a Japanese population. This study included 446 Japanese adults (174 men, aged of 40–64) recruited as participants in the Japan Collaborative Cohort (JACC) Study. Serum carotenoid level was measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. Premature mortality was defined as death before 65 years old during the follow-up period. Premature mortality was ascertained in 60 men (34.5%) and 65 women (23.9%). In men, compared to the 1st tertile of serum β-cryptoxanthin and provitamin A, those who were in the 3rd tertile had lower risks of premature all-cause mortality (OR, 95% CI: 0.19, 0.07–0.47 for β-cryptoxanthin, and 0.24, 0.09–0.61 for provitamin A). In women, compared to the 1st tertile of serum β-cryptoxanthin, those who were in the 3rd tertile had higher risks of premature all-cause mortality (OR, 95% CI: 1.94, 1.00–4.03). These significant associations were observed in analyses for premature cancer mortality. We found significant associations between higher levels of serum β-cryptoxanthin and provitamin A and lower risks of premature mortality among Japanese men, while a different directional association was found in women.
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