Cancer of the cervix uteri and vitamin A

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The concentrations of retinol and beta carotene were measured in serum samples taken from 113 women with cervical cancer, 32 with invasive and 81 with pre-invasive disease, and compared with those from 226 age-matched control women. There was little difference in serum retinol levels between women with cancer of the cervix, at any stage, and the control women, after adjusting for potential confounding factors. Serum beta carotene concentrations were likewise similar in women with invasive disease and the controls. However mean beta carotene levels were significantly reduced in women with pre-invasive disease compared to the controls (221.3 cf. 291.6 micrograms l-1, P less than 0.05). This reduction was more evident amongst women with a diagnosis of carcinoma-in-situ (mean 213.1 micrograms l-1 than amongst those with severe dysplasia (mean 228.7 micrograms l-1. There is a negative trend between beta carotene and risk of pre-invasive disease which is of borderline significance. These data have also been used to investigate the effects of smoking and oral contraceptive usage on the serum levels of retinol and beta carotene. Both habits tend to increase retinol and decrease beta carotene concentrations.

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Harris, R., Forman, D., Doll, R. et al. Cancer of the cervix uteri and vitamin A. Br J Cancer 53, 653–659 (1986) doi:10.1038/bjc.1986.109

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