Dietary total antioxidant capacity and colorectal cancer: A large case-control study in Italy

Carlo La Vecchia, Adriano Decarli, Mauro Serafini, Maria Parpinel, Rino Bellocco, Carlotta Galeone, Cristina Bosetti, Antonella Zucchetto, Jerry Polesel, Pagona Lagiou, Eva Negri, Marta Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A favorable role of fruit and vegetables on colorectal cancer risk has been related to the antioxidant properties of their components. We used data from an Italian case-control study including 1,953 patients with incident, histologically confirmed colorectal cancer (1,225 colon and 728 rectal cancers). Controls were 4,154 patients admitted to hospital for acute, non-neoplastic conditions. A reproducible and valid food frequency questionnaire was used to assess subjects' usual diet. Total antioxidant capacity (TAC) was measured using Italian food composition tables in terms of ferric reducing-antioxidant power (FRAP), Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and total radical-trapping antioxidant parameter (TRAP). We estimated the odds ratios (ORs) and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) through multiple logistic regression models, including terms for potential confounding factors, and energy intake. TAC was inversely related with colorectal cancer risk: the OR for the highest versus the lowest quintile was 0.68 (95% CI, 0.57-0.82) for FRAP, 0.69 (95% CI, 0.57-0.83) for TEAC and 0.69 (95% CI, 0.57-0.83) for TRAP. Corresponding values, excluding TAC deriving from coffee, were 0.75 (95% CI, 0.61-0.93) for FRAP, 0.76 (95% CI, 0.61-0.93) for TEAC and 0.71 (95% CI, 0.57-0.89) for TRAP. The inverse association was apparently - though not significantly - stronger for rectal than for colon cancer. This is the first case-control study indicating consistent inverse relations between dietary TAC and colorectal cancer risk. What's new? A diet rich in fruit and vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of common cancers, including colorectal cancer. Total antioxidant capacity (TAC), rather than individual components, has been suggested as a relevant factor for cancer risk. In this case-control study of over 6,000 patients, the authors used several different techniques to measure the dietary TAC of subjects' usual diet, and found a consistent inverse relationship between dietary TAC and colorectal cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1447-1451
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 15 2013


  • colorectal cancer
  • diet
  • non enzymatic antioxidant capacity
  • risk
  • total antioxidant capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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