Plasma phytanic acid concentration and risk of prostate cancer: Results from the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition

Alison J. Price, Naomi E. Allen, Paul N. Appleby, Francesca L. Crowe, Mazda Jenab, Sabina Rinaldi, Nadia Slimani, Rudolf Kaaks, Sabine Rohrmann, Heiner Boeing, Tobias Pischon, Vassiliki Benetou, Androniki Naska, Antonia Trichopoulou, Domenico Palli, Sabina Sieri, Rosario Tumino, Paolo Vineis, H. Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, Ignacio DonateCarlos A. González, Maria José Sánchez, Maria Dolores Chirlaque, Eva Ardanaz, Nerea Larrañaga, Kay Tee Khaw, Sheila Rodwell, Valentina Gallo, Dominique S. Michaud, Elio Riboli, Timothy J. Key

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Phytanic acid, a fatty acid predominantly obtained from foods high in ruminant fat, may have a biological role in the up-regulation of the protein α-methylacyl-coenzyme A racemase, which is overexpressed in prostate cancer tissue. Objective: This study aimed to examine the association between plasma concentrations of phytanic acid and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. Design: Within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort, 566 incident prostate cancer cases from Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom were individually matched to 566 controls by study center, age at recruitment, and time of day and duration of fasting at blood collection. Phytanic acid concentrations were measured by using a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry assay. Results: In controls, plasma phytanic acid concentration was strongly correlated with dairy fat intake (r = 0.49, P <0.0001), varied significantly by country (P for heterogeneity <0.0001), and decreased with age (P for trend = 0.02) and duration of fasting at blood collection (P for trend = 0.002). There was no significant association of phytanic acid with prostate cancer risk overall (odds ratio for a doubling in concentration: 1.05; 95% CI: 0.91, 1.21; P for trend = 0.53) or by stage or grade of disease. However, in men who had fasted (>3 h) at blood collection, the odds ratio for prostate cancer was 1.27 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.60; P for trend = 0.04). Conclusion: Plasma phytanic acid concentration is significantly associated with intake of dairy fat but not with overall risk of prostate cancer in this European population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1769-1776
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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