Key Micronutrients Lacking in Black Bladder Cancer Survivors' Diets

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African American survivors had lower intakes of 8 select micronutrients, such as folate, compared with Caucasian survivors.
African American survivors had lower intakes of 8 select micronutrients, such as folate, compared with Caucasian survivors.

SAN DIEGO—Researchers have uncovered racial disparities in nutrition among bladder cancer survivors that possibly help explain the racial differences in longevity. The study was presented at the American Urological Association 2016 annual meeting.

Although African Americans have a lower risk of developing bladder cancer than Caucasians, they have a higher mortality risk from the disease. Lifestyle factors such as diet might play a role.


Having a higher intake of specific micronutrients is thought to be inversely related to bladder cancer risk. Investigators from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, led by medical student Ajay Gopalakrishna, examined intake of key micronutrients by 472 bladder cancer survivors living in the southeastern United States. Survivors completed the 151-item Diet History Questionnaire II, which captures intake of 134 food items and 8 supplements in the prior month, including portion sizes. Among survivors (average age 74 years), 87% were Caucasian, 8% African American, and 5% other race.

The researchers calculated the intake of 22 micronutrients and compared them with recommended dietary allowances (RDA) from the National Institutes of Health.

Compared with Caucasians, African Americans had significantly lower intakes of vitamin A (323 vs. 429 mcg), vitamin D (3.43 vs 4.97 mcg), vitamin E (6.18 vs. 8.97 mg), selenium (66 vs. 100 mcg), thiamin (1.17 vs 1.56 mg), niacin (15.6 vs 22.6 mg), folate (321 vs 433 mcg), and vitamin B12 (3.15 vs 5.25 mcg). Consumption of vitamins C and K were similar between groups.

RELATED: Gender Differences Found in Bladder Cancer Treatment, Survival

Folate deficiency was present in African Americans but not in Caucasians (RDA 400 mcg). Intake of vitamins A, D, and E was subpar in both groups compared with recommended amounts.

“The results from this novel study identify an opportunity to improve racial disparities and highlight a need to address inadequate nutrition in bladder cancer survivorship,” Gopalakrishna stated.

Future studies are warranted to establish causal relationships between dietary patterns and outcomes. 

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