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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2014 Jan;217(1):88-94. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2013.03.013. Epub 2013 Apr 3.

Association of folate deficiency and selected tumor marker concentrations in long-term hexavalent chromium exposed population.

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Department of Clinical Laboratory, Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital Affiliated to Capital Medical University, Beijing 100010, PR China.


Both hexavalent chromium [Cr (VI)] exposure and folate deficiency have been associated with increased cancer risks. Our previous studies have found folate deficiency in Cr (VI) exposed population. Here the relationship between some tumor markers and folate status in long-term Cr (VI) exposure was investigated carefully to show the multiple aspects of Cr (VI) carcinogenesis. A group of 115 workers occupationally exposed to chromate and 60 matched, unexposed controls in Shandong province of China were recruited. Environmental and biological exposure assessments including personal exposure to airborne Cr and Cr contents in erythrocytes were performed. Serum folate, plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) and plasma carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), neuron specific enolase (NSE), squamous cell carcinoma antigen (SCC), cytokeratin fragment antigen 21-1 (CYFRA 21-1), cancer antigen 72-4 (CA72-4), as well as α-fetoprotein (AFP) were measured. Smoking index (SI) was also calculated to discriminate possible confounding effects of smoking status. Serum folate level decreased significantly, while plasma tHcy, CEA, NSE, SCC, CYFRA21-1, CA72-4 and AFP concentrations increased significantly after Cr (VI) exposure. Meanwhile, plasma CEA, NSE and SCC were negatively correlated with serum folate. SI was negatively correlated with serum folate but positively correlated with plasma tHcy, CEA and NSE levels. Present study suggests that folate deficiency was associated with increased cancer risks and might be affected by smoking in Cr (VI) exposed population. Folate might play a key role in Cr (VI) carcinogenesis although further detailed investigations are needed to clarify the mechanism of this process.


Chromium; Folate; Occupational exposure; Plasma; Smoking; Tumor markers

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