Research Papers

Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp 433-439

First online:

Longchain serum fatty acids and risk of thyroid cancer: A population-based case-control study in Norway

  • Jens P. BergAffiliated withHormone Laboratory, Aker HospitalDepartment of Tissue Culture, Institute of Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital
  • , Eystein GlattreAffiliated withNorwegian Cancer Registry
  • , Tor HaldorsenAffiliated withNorwegian Cancer Registry
  • , Arne T. HøstmarkAffiliated withDepartment of Preventive Medicine, University of Oslo
  • , Ida G. BayAffiliated withDepartment of Preventive Medicine, University of Oslo
  • , Aage F. JohansenAffiliated withNorwegian Cancer Registry
  • , Egil JellumAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Oslo, Rikshospitalet

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Epidemiologic studies have shown an association between seafood consumption and risk of thyroid cancer. Fish meals increase the serum concentrations of the longchain fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (20∶5,n-3) (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (22∶6,n-3) (DHA), for days. The hypothesis that serum concentrations of fatty acids may be associated with thyroid cancer risk therefore was tested in a population-based case-control study with 74 cases and 221 matched controls. Seventy-three cases with sera in the Norwegian serum bank (JANUS) were identified in the Norwegian Cancer Registry and matched with three controls, also in JANUS, on age, gender, place of residence, and time of blood sampling. Each case was matched with two controls. Serum concentrations of 11 longchain fatty acids were determined blindly by gas chromatography for all subjects. Controls were divided into three groups with increasing serum fatty acid concentrations, and odds ratios between cases and controls were estimated relative to the group with lowest serum level by univariate and multivariate analyses. The main finding was a significant inverse relation between the sum of arachidonic acid (20∶4,n-6) (AA) and DHA serum concentrations and thyroid cancer risk. The significance of this association was weakened when the analyses were restricted to the papillary type of thyroid carcinoma. It was of the same order of magnitude whether the period between blood sampling and diagnosis was greater than eight years, or eight or less years. High EPA/AA ratio, indicating consumption of fish fat, was not associated significantly with increased thyroid-cancer risk. These data indicate that the association between seafood ingestion and increased thyroid-cancer risk may not be caused by the marine fatty acids.

Key words

Arachidonic acid docosahexaenoic acid case-control study Norway polyunsaturated fatty acids risk reduction thyroid cancer