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Reuters Health Information (2006-04-07): High retinol levels linked to decreased risk of liver cancer


High retinol levels linked to decreased risk of liver cancer

Last Updated: 2006-04-07 16:16:20 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - High serum levels of retinol are associated with a decreased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), according to the results of a study of Chinese men.

Due to their antioxidant effects and ability to promote cell differentiation, retinol and its derivatives may protect against the development of HCC, lead author Dr. Jian-Min Yuan, from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues note.

To investigate, Dr. Yuan's team analyzed prediagnostic serum levels of retinol and related compounds in 213 men with HCC and 1087 matched controls. The subjects were drawn from a larger group of men living in Shanghai who were followed from 1986 through 2001.

As serum levels of retinol rose, the risk of HCC fell, the report shows (p < 0.001 for trend). Men with the highest levels were 87% less likely to develop the malignancy than those with the lowest levels, investigators report in the April 5th issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The authors also noted an interaction between retinol levels and hepatitis B status that appeared to magnify the risk. In particular, men positive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HbsAg) and the lowest levels of retinol were 72.7-times more likely to develop HCC than HbsAg-negative men with the highest levels of retinol (p = 0.018).

By contrast, serum levels of beta-carotene, lycopene, and other nutrients had no independent effect on HCC risk, the researchers point out.

"Given that HCC is a highly fatal malignancy, our findings may have clinical and prevention implications," the authors conclude.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2006;98:482-490.

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