We conducted a nested case-control study of squamous cell skin cancer (SCC) to determine whether risk was related to plasma concentrations of selenium, alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene, and retinol. We derived the study sample from participants in our Skin Cancer Prevention Study, all of whom had at least one basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer before study entry. Those who developed a new squamous cell skin cancer during the 3-5-year follow-up period were selected as cases (n = 132). Controls (n = 264) were chosen at random, with matching by age, sex, and study center, from among those who did not develop SCC but were being followed actively at the time the SCC case was diagnosed. Prediagnostic plasma samples were analyzed for alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene, and retinol using high-performance liquid chromatography. Selenium determinations were made using instrumental neutron activation analysis. Odds ratios were computed using conditional logistic regression for matched samples. We found no consistent pattern of SCC risk associated with any of the nutrients examined. The odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for the highest versus the lowest quartiles of beta-carotene, retinol, alpha-tocopherol, and selenium were 0.73 (0.38-1.41), 1.43 (0.77-2.64), 0.89 (0.43-1.85), and 0.86 (0.47-1.58), respectively. Thus, our data add to the growing body of evidence that these nutrients, at the concentrations we evaluated, are not related strongly to SCC risk.

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