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Despite declining incidence rates, gastric cancer (GC) is a major cause of death worldwide. Its aetiology may involve dietary antioxidant micronutrients such as carotenoids and tocopherols. The objective of this study was to determine the association of plasma levels of seven common carotenoids, their total plasma concentration, retinol and alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, with the risk of gastric adenocarcinoma in a case-control study nested within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a large cohort involving 10 countries. A secondary objective was to determine the association of total sum of carotenoids, retinol and alpha-tocopherol on GCs by anatomical subsite (cardia/noncardia) and histological subtype (diffuse/intestinal). Analytes were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography in prediagnostic plasma from 244 GC cases and 645 controls matched by age, gender, study centre and date of blood donation. Conditional logistic regression models adjusted by body mass index, total energy intake, smoking and Helicobacter pylori infection status were used to estimate relative cancer risks. After an average 3.2 years of follow-up, a negative association with GC risk was observed in the highest vs the lowest quartiles of plasma beta-cryptoxanthin (odds ratio (OR) = 0.53, 95% confidence intervals (CI) = 0.30-0.94, P(trend) = 0.006), zeaxanthin (OR = 0.39, 95% CI = 0.22-0.69, P(trend) = 0.005), retinol (OR = 0.55, 95% CI = 0.33-0.93, P(trend) = 0.005) and lipid-unadjusted alpha-tocopherol (OR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.37-0.94, P(trend) = 0.022). For all analytes, no heterogeneity of risk estimates or significant associations were observed by anatomical subsite. In the diffuse histological subtype, an inverse association was observed with the highest vs lowest quartile of lipid-unadjusted alpha-tocopherol (OR = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.11-0.65, P(trend) = 0.003). These results show that higher plasma concentrations of some carotenoids, retinol and alpha-tocopherol are associated with reduced risk of GC.

Original publication




Journal article


British journal of cancer

Publication Date





406 - 415


Nutrition and Hormones Group, IARC-WHO, Lyon, France.


Humans, Adenocarcinoma, Stomach Neoplasms, Carotenoids, Vitamin A, Tocopherols, Diet, Risk Factors, Case-Control Studies, Follow-Up Studies, Prospective Studies, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Europe, Nutritional Physiological Phenomena