NMA: Nonprescription Medicines Academy

Antioxidants Selenium, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C May Decrease Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

August 29th, 2012

Among more than 23,000 men and women (40 to 74 years of age) recruited into the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer–Norfolk (EPIC-Norfolk) Study between 1993 and 1997, participants with the highest intake of the dietary antioxidants selenium, vitamin E, and vitamin C were 67% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer within 10 years of recruitment, compared with participants who consumed lower amounts.

At study baseline, participants completed 7-day food diaries that recorded foods, brands, and portion sizes. The cohort was subsequently monitored to identify participants who developed incident pancreatic cancer up to June 2010. Nutrient intakes were calculated for the 49 participants diagnosed with pancreatic cancer as well as a random sample of 3,970 controls, using a computer program with information on 11,000 foods. The hazard ratios (HRs) of developing pancreatic cancer were estimated across quartiles of intake and thresholds of the lowest quartile against a summation of the three highest quartiles.

Regression analysis showed inverse associations with each quartile of antioxidant intake and the risk of pancreatic cancer (apart from zinc), although these did not reach statistical significance. Participants with consumption of vitamins C and E and selenium in the three highest quartiles had a decreased risk of pancreatic cancer at 10 years of follow-up (HR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.13–0.84; p <0.05).

According to the study authors, if the association is causal, 8.2% of all pancreatic cancers (1 in 12 cases) could be prevented by avoiding the combined lowest intakes of vitamins C (<51.3 mg/day), vitamin E (<7.2 mg/day), and selenium (<43.6 µg/day).

Gut. 2012 Jul 23. [Epub ahead of print]