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Cancer Causes Control. 2001 Nov;12(9):821-8.

Sphingolipids as biomarkers of fumonisin exposure and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in china.

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National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research, Cancer Prevention Studies Branch, Bethesda, MD 20892-7058, USA.



Ecologic studies of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) have reported an association with consumption of maize contaminated with Fusarium verticillioides, which produce fungal toxins referred to as fumonisins. Fumonisins disrupt sphingolipid metabolism and serum sphingolipids have been proposed as biomarkers of fumonisin exposure. We conducted a prospective nested case-control study to examine the relationship between serum sphingolipids and ESCC incidence.


Cases and controls were selected from a large prospective trial conducted in Linxian, People's Republic of China. Ninety-eight ESCC cases were randomly selected from the 639 incident ESCC ascertained during the initial 5.25 years of follow-up: 185 controls were also randomly selected based on the distribution of cases among six age and sex strata. Concentrations of sphinganine and sphingosine were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography in serum collected at the study baseline.


No significant associations were found between serum sphingosine, sphinganine, or the sphinganine/ sphingosine ratio and ESCC incidence in conditional and unconditional logistic regression models with adjustment for age, sex, tobacco use. and alcohol use.


Our study is the first prospective study to assess the relationship between sphingolipid levels, as biomarkers of fumonisin exposure, and cancer incidence. We found no significant association between sphingolipid levels and risk of ESCC.

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