Rice consumption and cancer incidence in US men and women

Ran Zhang, Xuehong Zhang, Kana Wu, Hongyu Wu, Qi Sun, Frank B. Hu, Jiali Han, Walter C. Willett, Edward L. Giovannucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


While both the 2012 and 2014 Consumer Reports concerned arsenic levels in US rice, no previous study has evaluated long-term consumption of total rice, white rice and brown rice in relation to risk of developing cancers. We investigated this in the female Nurses' Health Study (1984-2010), and Nurses' Health Study II (1989-2009), and the male Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2008), which included a total of 45,231 men and 160,408 women, free of cancer at baseline. Validated food frequency questionnaires were used to measure rice consumption at baseline and repeated almost every 4 years thereafter. We employed Cox proportional hazards regression model to estimate multivariable relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs). During up to 26 years of follow-up, we documented 31,655 incident cancer cases (10,833 in men and 20,822 in women). Age-adjusted results were similar to multivariable-adjusted results. Compared to participants with less than one serving per week, the multivariable RRs of overall cancer for individuals who ate at least five servings per week were 0.97 for total rice (95% CI: 0.85-1.07), 0.87 for white rice (95% CI: 0.75-1.01), and 1.17 for brown rice (95% CI: 0.90-1.26). Similar non-significant associations were observed for specific sites of cancers including prostate, breast, colon and rectum, melanoma, bladder, kidney, and lung. Additionally, the null associations were observed among European Americans and non-smokers, and were not modified by BMI. Long-term consumption of total rice, white rice or brown rice was not associated with risk of developing cancer in US men and women. What's new? Although rice consumption per capita in the United States is low compared to Asian countries, the various types of rice eaten in the United States may contain elevated levels of arsenic, raising health concerns. This report explores possible relationships between rice consumption and cancer development. Analyses of data from the Nurses' Health Study, Nurses' Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study show that among U.S. men and women, neither total rice consumption nor white rice or brown rice consumption are associated with cancer. Measures of arsenic should be assessed in the context of rice consumption in future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-564
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • and lung cancer
  • arsenic
  • bladder cancer
  • breast cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • melanoma
  • prostate cancer
  • rice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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  • Cite this

    Zhang, R., Zhang, X., Wu, K., Wu, H., Sun, Q., Hu, F. B., Han, J., Willett, W. C., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2016). Rice consumption and cancer incidence in US men and women. International Journal of Cancer, 138(3), 555-564. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.29704