Growing evidence suggests that environmental factors probably play important roles in the development of gastroesophageal cancers (GOC), however, the effects of trace elements on GOC remain unclear.
To assess the effect of trace elements on GOC and the effect modification by other factors.
Hair and fingernail samples were collected from GOC cases and controls in a population-based case-control study in Taixing, China, and were used to detect the concentrations of 12 trace elements using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Unconditional logistic regression models were used to calculate the odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for concentrations of 12 trace elements in association with GOC after adjusting the other factors.
A total of 830 hair samples (581 controls and 249 cases) and 895 fingernail samples (559 controls and 336 cases) were included. Compared to the lowest-tertile concentration, the higher tertiles of Ca, Zn, Fe, Al, Cr, Pb, Se, and V were positively associated with GOC, while the higher tertiles of Mg, Mn, Sr, and As were inversely associated with GOC. Significant interactions between the hair level of Cr and two other risk factors, including smoking (P for interaction = 0.044) and alcohol drinking (P for interaction = 0.028), were observed in association with GOC.
The current study reveals that these 12 trace elements in hair and fingernails are associated with GOC to varying degrees. Further studies and animal experiments are needed to clarify the associations and explore potential mechanisms.
The role of trace elements in the development or inhibition of gastroesophageal cancers (GOC) remains unclear. In this study, we further explored the associations between 12 trace elements and GOC based on a population-based case-control study conducted in Taixing, China. Higher levels of Ca, Zn, Fe, Al, Cr, Pb, Se, and V were positively associated with increased GOC, while inverse associations between higher levels of Mg, Mn, Sr, As, and GOC were observed. Observed associations were consistent in hair and fingernail samples. Moreover, interaction effects between hair level of Cr and smoking or alcohol drinking were identified.
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The datasets and code used and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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We would like to thank the interviewers and technicians of Fudan University Taizhou Institute of Health Sciences for their work in data and sample collection. We also thank the staff of the Taixing Center for Disease Control and Prevention for the help they provided in the study field and the staff of Taixing People’s Hospital for their help in the sample collection.
This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (82173591, 81973116, 82073637, 82204129, 82103912, and 91846302), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2021YFF1201101, 2017YFC0907003, and 2017YFC0907002), and Shandong Provincial Natural Science Foundation (ZR2022QH162). The funders were not involved in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data, or the writing or submitting of this report.
The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
This study was approved by the institutional review board of the School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, and the Institutional Review Board of Qilu Hospital, Shandong University. All participants voluntarily joined this study and provided written informed consent.
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Zhang, T., Yin, X., Yang, X. et al. Trace elements in hair or fingernail and gastroesophageal cancers: results from a population-based case-control study. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-023-00528-y
- Trace element
- Gastroesophageal cancers
- Case-control study
- Risk factor