Research Article

Serum retinol and the inverse relationship between serum cholesterol and cancer.

BMJ 1982; 284 doi: (Published 16 January 1982) Cite this as: BMJ 1982;284:152
  1. J D Kark,
  2. A H Smith,
  3. C G Hames


    Several human studies have shown an inverse relation between vitamin A intake (and serum concentrations of retinol and carotene) and cancer. Serum cholesterol concentrations have also been reported in inverse relation to cancer. In a study of 3102 people in Evans County, Georgia, who were followed for over 12-14 years to assess the incidence of cancer there was an inverse association between the risk of cancer and both serum retinol and serum cholesterol concentrations. The data also showed an unexpectedly strong correlation between serum retinol and total cholesterol concentrations. The inverse relationship with cancer was stronger with serum retinol than with cholesterol, which suggested that the association with cholesterol might be secondary. This suggestion may also explain the cholesterol-cancer association reported in several other cohort studies. Further studies of the relation between serum concentrations of cholesterol, retinol, and carotene and the incidence of cancer are needed.