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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study

The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study conducted in southwestern Finland has been an integral cohort research resource for NCI for nearly three decades. The study was designed to test hypotheses based on epidemiological and experimental evidence supporting nutritional prevention of cancer, including lower risk among persons with higher vitamin status and vegetable consumption, and the biological and anti-neoplastic properties of several antioxidants and micronutrients. It tested supplementation with β-carotene (20 mg/day) and vitamin E (50 mg/day, as dl-α-tocopheryl acetate) for five-eight years (1985-1993) in 29,133 male smokers (>5 cigarettes daily), and found 8% higher overall mortality and 18% increased lung cancer incidence in the β-carotene arm, and 32% lower prostate cancer incidence in the men supplemented with vitamin E.

Baseline questionnaire data and biospecimens (serum, whole blood, and toenail clippings) were collected, and fasting serum α-tocopherol, β-carotene, retinol, and HDL/total cholesterol were measured for the entire cohort. Ongoing linkage with the Finnish Cancer and Mortality Registries has provided complete case ascertainment and causes of death.

The high-quality study data, biological specimens, and ongoing endpoint ascertainment have tested biochemical/molecular and genetic hypotheses with respect to cancers of the lung (4,171 cases currently), prostate (n=2,874), colorectum (979), bladder (871), upper gastrointestinal tract (640), pancreas (488), and kidney (391), and lymphomas/ leukemias (639). The ATBC study collaborates with extramural researchers and participates in a large number of international consortium projects such as BPC3, the Dietary Pooling Project, COMETS, EHPCCG, PRACTICAL, GAME-ON, PanScan, LC3, TRICL, GECCO, CORECT, Interlymph, and other NCI Cohort Consortium analyses.

For more information, contact Demetrius Albanes.

Metabolic Epidemiology Branch - Research Areas