Circulating Levels Of Copper And Zinc And Risk Of Hepatobiliary Cancer Development

Magdalena STEPIEN, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC-WHO), France
HUGHES D. 2 , TRICHOPOULOU A. 3 , ROMIEU I. 1 , SCHOMBURG L. 4 , JENAB M. 1

1 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC-WHO), Lyon, France
2 Department of Physiology & Medical Physics & Centre for Systems Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
3 Hellenic Health Foundation, Athens, Greece
4 Institut fur Experimentelle Endokrinologie, Charite - Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Germany

Purpose: Copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) are essential trace elements and co-factors of many enzymatic reactions, including those involved in redox processes. Both elements may also play a role in the pathogenesis of cirrhotic complications and liver cancer development. The aim of the study was to assess pre-diagnostic circulating levels of Cu and Zn in relation to development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cancers of the gallbladder and biliary tract (GBTC).
 
Methods: A nested case-control study was conducted within the EPIC cohort. Serum Zn and Cu levels were measured by total reflection X-ray fluorescence in cancer cases (HCC n=109; GBTC n=97) and their matched controls (1:1).  Multivariable odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (OR; 95% CI) were used to estimate cancer risk associations, comparing highest versus lowest tertiles.
 
Results: For HCC, an inverse risk association was noted (OR=0.33; 95% CI: 0.11-1.00), while Cu was not significantly associated (OR=1.23; 95% CI:0.44-3.47). For GBTC, no significant risk associations were observed (Zn OR=1.45; 0.48-4.37, Cu OR=1.35; 0.53-3.43).
 
Conclusions: Zn may have a protective role against HCC development, perhaps due to its antioxidant or hepato-protective properties.

Funding source: French National Cancer Institute (L’Institut National du Cancer; INCA); Grant number: 2009–139.