To examine associations of serum carotenoids, retinol, and tocopherols with colorectal cancer risk, we conducted a case-control study nested within the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study. These micronutrients were measured in prediagnostic sérum samples from 116 men and women who developed colorectal cancer during an 8-yr follow-up period and from 298 matched controls. In men, the higher level of serum total carotenoids was associated with a decreased risk: The multivariate-adjusted odds ratio (OR) for the highest vs. the lowest tertile was 0.34 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.11-1.00; trend P over tertiles = 0.040). In women, the higher levels of α- and β-carotenes and total carotenoids were instead related to an increased risk: The corresponding ORs were 4.72 (95% CI = 1.29-17.3), 2.00 (0.70-5.73), and 2.47 (0.73-8.34), respectively (trend P = 0.007, 0.040, and 0.064, respectively). We also found a somewhat decreasing risk with increased serum retinal in all subjects and α-tocopherol in men: The ORs (95% CI) for the highest tertiles were 0.29 (0.11-0.78; trend P over tertiles = 0.010) and 0.29 (0.07-1.17; trend P = 0.098), respectively. The effects of some carotenoids on colorectal cancer risk may be modified by sex or by factors associated with sex, including smoking and drinking habits.
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