An atlas of associations between 14 micronutrients and 22 cancer outcomes: Mendelian randomization analyses

Jong Yeob Kim, Minku Song, Min Seo Kim, Pradeep Natarajan, Ron Do, Woojae Myung, Hong Hee Won

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Micronutrients, namely vitamins and minerals, are associated with cancer outcomes; however, their reported effects have been inconsistent across studies. We aimed to identify the causally estimated effects of micronutrients on cancer by applying the Mendelian randomization (MR) method, using single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with micronutrient levels as instrumental variables. Methods: We obtained instrumental variables of 14 genetically predicted micronutrient levels and applied two-sample MR to estimate their causal effects on 22 cancer outcomes from a meta-analysis of the UK Biobank (UKB) and FinnGen cohorts (overall cancer and 21 site-specific cancers, including breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer), in addition to six major cancer outcomes and 20 cancer subset outcomes from cancer consortia. We used sensitivity MR methods, including weighted median, MR-Egger, and MR-PRESSO, to assess potential horizontal pleiotropy or heterogeneity. Genome-wide association summary statistical data of European descent were used for both exposure and outcome data, including up to 940,633 participants of European descent with 133,384 cancer cases. Results: In total, 672 MR tests (14 micronutrients × 48 cancer outcomes) were performed. The following two associations met Bonferroni significance by the number of associations (P < 0.00016) in the UKB plus FinnGen cohorts: increased risk of breast cancer with magnesium levels (odds ratio [OR] = 1.281 per 1 standard deviation [SD] higher magnesium level, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.151 to 1.426, P < 0.0001) and increased risk of colorectal cancer with vitamin B12 level (OR = 1.22 per 1 SD higher vitamin B12 level, 95% CI = 1.107 to 1.345, P < 0.0001). These two associations remained significant in the analysis of the cancer consortia. No significant heterogeneity or horizontal pleiotropy was observed. Micronutrient levels were not associated with overall cancer risk. Conclusions: Our results may aid clinicians in deciding whether to regulate the intake of certain micronutrients, particularly in high-risk groups without nutritional deficiencies, and may help in the design of future clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number316
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Cancer
  • Mendelian randomization
  • Micronutrient
  • Mineral
  • Vitamin


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