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Objective

Prior research has suggested the possible role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Prospective data examining dietary antioxidants such carotenoids and vitamin C are limited.

Methods

Risk of ALS associated with carotenoid and vitamin C intake was investigated in 5 prospective cohorts: the National Institutes of Health–Association of American Retired Persons Diet and Health Study, the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, the Multiethnic Cohort, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), and the Nurses Health Study (NHS). ALS deaths were documented using the National Death Index, and confirmed nonfatal ALS cases were included from HPFS and NHS. A total of 1,153 ALS deaths occurred among 1,100,910 participants (562,942 men; 537,968 women). Participants were categorized into cohort-specific quintiles of intake for dietary variables. We applied Cox proportional hazards regression to calculate cohort-specific risk ratios (RRs), and pooled results using random-effects methods.

Results

A greater total major carotenoids intake was associated with a reduced risk of ALS (pooled, multivariate-adjusted RR for the highest to the lowest quintile = 0.75, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.61–0.91, p for trend = 0.004). Individually, higher dietary intakes of β-carotene and lutein were inversely associated with ALS risk. The pooled multivariate RRs comparing the highest to the lowest quintile for β-carotene and lutein were 0.85 (95% CI = 0.64–1.13, p for trend = 0.03) and 0.79 (95% CI = 0.64–0.96, p for trend = 0.01), respectively. Lycopene, β-cryptoxanthin, and vitamin C were not associated with reduced risk of ALS.

Interpretation

Consumption of foods high in carotenoids may help prevent or delay onset of ALS. ANN NEUROL 2013;73:236–245