Plasma homocysteine and cysteine and risk of breast cancer in women

Jennifer Lin, I. Min Lee, Yiqing Song, Nancy R. Cook, Jacob Selhub, Jo Ann E. Manson, Julie E. Buring, Shumin M. Zhang

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80 Scopus citations


Homocysteine and cysteine are associated with oxidative damage and metabolic disorders, which may lead to carcinogenesis. Observational studies assessing the association between circulating homocysteine or cysteine and breast cancer are very limited, and findings have been inconsistent. We prospectively evaluated plasma levels of homocysteine and cysteine in relation to breast cancer risk among 812 incident cases of invasive breast cancer and 812 individually matched control subjects from 28,345 women in the Women's Health Study; these women were ≥45 years old, provided blood samples, and had no history of cancer and cardiovascular disease at baseline. Logistic regression controlling for matching factors and risk factors for breast cancer was used to estimate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). All statistical tests were two sided. Homocysteine levels were not associated with overall risk for breast cancer. However, we observed a positive association between cysteine levels and breast cancer risk; the multivariate RR for the highest quintile group relative to the lowest quintile was 1.65 (95% CI, 1.04-2.61; P for trend = 0.04). In addition, women with higher levels of homocysteine and cysteine were at a greater risk for developing breast cancer when their folate levels were low (P for interaction = 0.04 and 0.002, respectively). Although our study offers little support for an association between circulating homocysteine and overall breast cancer risk, higher homocysteine levels may be associated with an increased risk for breast cancer among women with low folate status. The increased risk of breast cancer associated with high cysteine levels warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2397-2405
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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    Lin, J., Lee, I. M., Song, Y., Cook, N. R., Selhub, J., Manson, J. A. E., Buring, J. E., & Zhang, S. M. (2010). Plasma homocysteine and cysteine and risk of breast cancer in women. Cancer Research, 70(6), 2397-2405.