Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 559–570 | Cite as

Maternal Dietary Risk Factors in Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (United States)

  • Christopher D. JensenEmail author
  • Gladys Block
  • Patricia Buffler
  • Xiaomei Ma
  • Steve Selvin
  • Stacy Month


Objective: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common childhood cancer, and the second most common cause of mortality in children aged 1–14 years. Recent research has established that the disease can originate in utero, and thus maternal diet may be an important risk factor for ALL.

Methods: The Northern California Childhood Leukemia Study is a population-based case–control study of risk factors for childhood leukemia, including maternal diet. Cases (n = 138) and controls (n = 138) were matched on sex, date of birth, mother's race, Hispanicity, and county of residence at birth. Maternal dietary intake in the 12months prior to pregnancy was obtained by a 76-item food frequency questionnaire.

Results: Consumption of the vegetables (OR = 0.53; 95% CI, 0.33–0.85; p= 0.008), protein sources (OR = 0.40; 95% CI, 0.18–0.90, p= 0.03), and fruits (OR = 0.71; 95% CI, 0.49–1.04; p= 0.08) food groups were inversely associated with ALL. Among nutrients, consumption of provitamin A carotenoids (OR = 0.65, 95% CI, 0.42–1.01; p= 0.05), and the antioxidant glutathione (OR = 0.42; 95% CI, 0.16–1.10; p= 0.08) were inversely associated with ALL.

Conclusion: Maternal dietary factors, specifically the consumption of vegetables, fruits, protein sources and related nutrients, may play a role in the etiology of ALL. Dietary carotenoids and glutathione appear to be important contributors to this effect.

leukemia maternal diet carotenoids glutathione epidemiologic methods 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher D. Jensen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gladys Block
    • 1
  • Patricia Buffler
    • 1
  • Xiaomei Ma
    • 2
  • Steve Selvin
    • 1
  • Stacy Month
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Public Health, 419 Warren HallUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Yale University School of MedicineUSA
  3. 3.Kaiser PermanenteOaklandUSA

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