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Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Mar;99(3):551-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.065714. Epub 2013 Dec 24.

Cancer death is related to high palmitoleic acid in serum and to polymorphisms in the SCD-1 gene in healthy Swedish men.

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Department of Surgical Sciences/Orthopaedics (LB, EWL, and KM); the Departments of Public Health and Caring Sciences/Geriatrics (LK) and Public Health and Caring Sciences/Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (BV), Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; and the National Food Agency, Uppsala, Sweden (EWL).



A high proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) or a high ratio of MUFAs to saturated fatty acids in plasma, reflecting a high activity of the lipogenic enzyme stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD-1), has been shown to be related to cancer death and incidence in some studies.


The objective was to study whether the serum cholesteryl ester proportion of palmitoleic acid [16:1n-7 (16:1ω-3)] and the ratio of palmitoleic to palmitic acid (16:1n-7/16:0), as an estimation of the activity of SCD-1, are related to cancer death and to investigate whether polymorphisms in the SCD-1 gene are related to cancer mortality.


A community-based cohort of 50-y-old men was followed for a maximum of >40 y. Survival analysis was used to relate fatty acid composition in serum, analyzed at baseline by gas-liquid chromatography (n = 1981), and single nucleotide polymorphisms in the SCD-1 gene (n = 986) to cancer death. A 7-d dietary record was completed at age 70 y (n = 880).


The proportions of 16:1n-7 and the ratio of 16:1n-7 to 16:0 were associated with cancer mortality during follow-up in a comparison of the highest with the lowest quartile of 16:1n-7 (adjusted HR: 1.37; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.82). Inherited variance of the SCD-1 gene seemed to be related to cancer death, especially among men with a low proportion of PUFA in the diet in a comparison of the highest with the lowest weighted genetic risk score (HR: 2.14; 95% CI: 1.13, 4.04).


The findings are compatible with the hypothesis that there is an association between endogenously synthesized MUFAs and cancer death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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