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Total and individual antioxidant intake and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer

Dina Gifkins12, Sara H Olson3, Lisa Paddock24, Melony King12, Kitaw Demissie12, Shou-En Lu12, Ah-Ng Tony Kong5, Lorna Rodriguez-Rodriguez1 and Elisa V Bandera12*

Author Affiliations

1 The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 195 Little Albany St., New Brunswick, NJ, 08903, USA

2 School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ, USA

3 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

4 New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Trenton, NJ, USA

5 Rutgers University, Department of Pharmaceutics, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Piscataway, NJ, USA

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:211  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-211

Published: 1 June 2012



Limiting oxidative stress to the ovarian epithelium has been proposed as a first-line defense against ovarian cancer. Although evidence for an association between individual dietary antioxidant intake and ovarian cancer risk is conflicting, the combined evidence suggests a modest inverse association. Our study aimed to evaluate the association between total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and individual antioxidant intakes (vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium, lutein, and lycopene) and ovarian cancer risk.


We conducted a population-based case–control study in New Jersey. Cases were women ages 21 years and older with newly diagnosed epithelial ovarian cancer who resided in six counties of New Jersey. Controls were women in the same age range who resided in the same geographic area. A total of 205 ovarian cancer cases and 390 controls were included. Dietary intake was ascertained using the Block food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), and TAC indices were constructed by linking FFQ-derived estimates to two standardized antioxidant capacity databases, the USDA Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) Database, and the University of Olso’s Antioxidant Food Database. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios and 95 % confidence intervals while controlling for major ovarian cancer risk factors.


We found a strong inverse association with selenium from food sources (OR: 0.41; 95 % CI: 0.20-0.85, for the highest vs. lowest tertile of dietary selenium intake). However, there was little evidence of an association with dietary TAC or the others individual antioxidants. In contrast, compared to non-users, supplement users had significant increased risk for all micronutrients, but no statistically significant increased risk was observed for combined intake from foods and supplements of any of these antioxidants.


This study found an inverse association between selenium consumption from food sources and ovarian cancer risk, while there was little evidence of an association with TAC or any of the other individual antioxidants. Additional research is needed to confirm these findings.

Ovarian neoplasms; Antioxidants; Total antioxidant capacity; Vitamin C; Vitamin E; Beta-carotene; Selenium; Lutein; Lycopene; Diet