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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Jun;20(6):1124-30. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-10-1261. Epub 2011 Apr 5.

Low plasma coenzyme Q(10) levels and breast cancer risk in Chinese women.

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Office of Public Health Studies, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA.



Low circulating levels of coenzyme Q(10) (CoQ(10)) have been associated with increased cancer incidence and poor prognosis for a number of cancer types, while a recent prospective study observed a positive association for CoQ(10) with breast cancer risk.


We prospectively examined the association of plasma CoQ(10) with breast cancer risk in a nested case-control study of Chinese women within the Shanghai Women's Health Study (SWHS). Prediagnostic plasma samples were obtained from 340 cases and 653 age-matched controls and analyzed for total CoQ(10).


A borderline significant inverse association for breast cancer incidence with plasma CoQ(10) level was observed by a conditional logistic regression model adjusted for age and age at first live birth, which became significant after elimination of cases diagnosed within 1 year of blood draw (P(trend) = 0.03). This association was independent of menopausal status. Plasma CoQ(10) levels were also observed to be significantly associated with circulating γ-tocopherol (r = 0.50; P < 0.0001) and α-tocopherol (r = 0.38; P < 0.0001) levels.


Circulating levels of CoQ(10) were generally low in this population and the observed association with breast cancer risk may be limited to those women with exceptionally low values.


This study reports an inverse relationship between circulating CoQ(10) and breast cancer risk, while the only other prospective study of CoQ(10) and breast cancer to date found a positive association. Lower levels of CoQ(10) in the SWHS population suggest that the 2 studies may not be contradictory and indicate a possible nonlinear (U-shaped) association of CoQ(10) with risk.

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