Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice

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Serum antioxidant vitamins and the risk of oral cancer in patients seen at a tertiary institution in Nigeria

AO Lawal, B Kolude, BF Adeyemi, JO Lawoyin, EE Akang


Objectives: Tobacco and alcohol are major risk factors of oral cancer, but nutritional deficiency may also contribute to development of oral cancer. This study compared serum antioxidant vitamin levels in oral cancer patients and controls in order to validate the role of vitamin deficiencies in the etiology of oral cancer. Materials and Methods: Serum vitamin A, C, and E levels of 33 oral cancer patients and 30 controls at University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria, were determined using standard methods. The data obtained were analyzed using the Student t‑test, odds ratio, and logistic regression. Results: Mean vitamin A, C, and E levels were significantly lower in oral cancer patients (P=0.022, P=0.000, and P=0.013 respectively). Risk of oral cancer was 10.89, 11.35, and 5.6 times more in patients with low serum vitamins A, C, and E, respectively. However, on logistic regression analysis, only low serum vitamin E independently predicted occurrence of oral cancer. Conclusions: The lower serum vitamin A, C, and E levels in oral cancer patients could be either a cause or an effect of the oral cancer. Further studies using a larger sample size and cohort studies with long‑term follow‑up of subjects are desirable.

Keywords: Antioxidant vitamins, Nigeria, oral cancer risk

Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice •Jan-Mar 2012 • Vol 15 • Issue 1
AJOL African Journals Online