Serum cholesterol, beta-carotene, and risk of lung cancer

Richard B. Shekelle*, Christine C. Tangney, Arthur H. Rossof, Jeremiah Stamler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This paper hypothesizes that beta-carotene mediates the association between low serum cholesterol and increased risk of lung cancer, predicts that the association should be greater in population strata with low intake of beta-carotene than in those with high intake if the hypothesis is correct, and investigates this prediction with data from a 24-year cohort study of 1,960 middle-aged employed men. In the total cohort, serum cholesterol was not related to risk of lung cancer. The relative risk associated with a difference of −1.0 mmol per liter in serum cholesterol was 1.01 (95% confidence interval of 0.80–1.27) after adjustment for cigarette smoking, age, and intake of beta-carotene. In contrast, however, when the study group was restricted to men with intake of betacarotene <5,000 (N=929) or <3,000 IU per day (N=272), comparable relative risks were 1.10 and 1.21, respectively. Although the 95% confidence intervals for these relative risks were broad and included unity, the result is consistent with expectation. We conclude that the hypothesis warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-287
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1992


  • Carotenoids
  • Cholesterol
  • Diet
  • Lung neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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