Journal Article

A prospective cohort study on the relationship between onion and leek consumption, garlic supplement use and the risk of colorectal carcinoma in The Netherlands

Elisabeth Dorant, Piet A. van den Brandt and R.Alexandra Goldbohm

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 17, issue 3, pages 477-484
Published in print March 1996 | ISSN: 0143-3334
e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/17.3.477
A prospective cohort study on the relationship between onion and leek consumption, garlic supplement use and the risk of colorectal carcinoma in The Netherlands

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The association between onion and leek consumption, garlic supplement use and colon and rectum carcinoma among men and women was evaluated in the Netherlands Cohort Study, a large-scale prospective cohort study on diet and cancer. Onions, leeks, and garlic belong to the Allium genus and contain large amounts of potentially chemopreventive compounds. The Netherlands Cohort Study was started in 1986 among 120 852 men and women, aged 55–69 years. Dietary intake was measured with a 150-item food frequency questionnaire. After 3.3 years of follow-up, 150 and 143 incident male and female cases of colon carcinoma, and 93 and 57 cases of rectum carcinoma, respectively, with complete dietary data were available for analysis. Dietary data were available for 1525 men and 1598 women of a randomly selected subcohort, that was followed up to estimate person-time in the entire cohort. In men, the adjusted rate ratios (RRs) in multivariable analysis for colon and rectum carcinoma in the highest compared to the lowest onion consumption categories were 0.87 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.48–1.65), and 0.66 (95% CI = 0.28–1.52), respectively. The RRs for proximal colon carcinoma were lower than for distal colon carcinoma. Leek consumption was not associated with colon and rectum carcinoma incidence in men. None of the RRs were significantly different from unity and no trends in the RRs were detected. A lower risk was found for rectum carcinoma in women consuming less than 0.25 onions per day (RR = 0.36, 95% CI = 0.13–0.99), but the trend in the RRs was not statistically significant (P = 0.25). All other RRs for colon and rectum carcinoma associated with onion consumption were slightly higher than one. Leek consumption was not associated with colon and rectum carcinoma incidence. The use of garlic supplements was not associated with colon and rectum carcinoma in men and women combined. This study does not support an inverse association between the consumption of onions and leeks, or the use of garlic supplements and the incidence of male and female colon and rectum carcinoma.

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Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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