Observational studies inconsistently reported the relationship between vitamin C intake and risk of pancreatic cancer. We conducted a meta-analysis of published case-control and cohort studies to quantify the association.
Potentially eligible studies were found on PubMed and EMBASE databases through May 31, 2015. A random-effects model was assigned to compute summary point estimates with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Subgroup and meta-regression analyses were also performed to explore sources of heterogeneity.
Our final analyses included 20 observational studies comprising nearly 5 thousand cases of pancreatic cancer. When comparing the highest with the lowest categories of vitamin C intake, the summary odds ratio/relative risk for case-control studies (14 studies), cohort studies (6 studies) and all studies combined was 0.58 (95% CI: 0.52-0.66), 0.93 (95% CI: 0.78-1.11) and 0.66 (95% CI: 0.58-0.75), respectively. The difference in the findings between case-control and cohort studies was statistically significant (P < .001). Possible publication bias was shown in the meta-analysis of case-control studies.
There is insufficient evidence to conclude any relationship between vitamin C intake and risk of pancreatic cancer. The strong inverse association observed in case-control studies may be affected by biases (eg, recall and selection biases) that particularly affect case-control studies and/or potential publication bias. Future prospective studies of vitamin C intake and pancreatic cancer are needed.