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Dietary melatonin and liver cancer incidence in Japan: From the Takayama study.

Cancer Science 2024 Februrary 15
There is some biological plausibility that exogenous melatonin plays a role in preventing liver carcinogenesis. There has been little research on the association between melatonin intake in a normal diet and health outcomes. We evaluated the association between dietary melatonin intake and the incidence of liver cancer in a population-based prospective study in Japan. This study included 30,824 residents of Takayama city who were 35 years of age or older in 1992 and had participated in the Takayama study, Japan. Dietary intake was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire at the baseline. Melatonin content in foods was measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Cancer incidence was confirmed through regional population-based cancer registries in Gifu. Liver cancer was defined as code C22 according to the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision. Hazard ratios for liver cancer were estimated for the tertile groups of melatonin intake using a Cox proportional hazards model. During the mean follow-up period of 13.6 years, 189 individuals developed liver cancer. Compared with subjects in the lowest tertile of melatonin intake, those in the middle and highest tertiles had decreased risks of liver cancer, with a significant linear trend after multivariate adjustments (hazard ratios: 0.64 and 0.65, respectively, trend p = 0.023). There was no significant interaction by sex (interaction p = 0.54). This initial finding, which needs to be confirmed by further studies, suggests that consuming melatonin-containing foods might play a role in the prevention of liver cancer.

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