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PLoS One. 2015 May 18;10(5):e0123423. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123423. eCollection 2015.

Elevated homocysteine level and folate deficiency associated with increased overall risk of carcinogenesis: meta-analysis of 83 case-control studies involving 35,758 individuals.

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Department of Clinical Laboratory, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China.
Department of Clinical Laboratory, Fudan University Cancer Center, Shanghai, China.



Results of the association of folate metabolism and carcinogenesis are conflicting. We performed a meta-analysis to examine the effect of the interaction of serum concentration of homocysteine (Hcy), folate, and vitamin B12 and 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) polymorphism on risk of cancer overall.


Two reviewers independently searched for all published studies of Hcy and cancer in PubMed, EMBASE-MEDLINE and Chinese databases. Pooled results were reported as odds ratios (ORs) and mean differences and presented with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) and 2-sided probability values.


We identified 83 eligible studies of 15,046 cases and 20,712 controls. High level of Hcy but low level of folate was associated with risk of cancer overall, with little effect by type of cancer or ethnicity. Vitamin B12 level was inversely associated with only urinary-system and gastrointestinal carcinomas and for Asian and Middle Eastern patients. As well, MTHFR C677T, A1298C and G1793A polymorphisms were related to elevated serum level of Hcy, and folate and vitamin B12 deficiency. However, only MTHFR C677T homogeneity/wild-type (TT/CC) polymorphism was positively associated with overall risk of cancer.


Elevated serum Hcy level and folate deficiency are associated with increased overall risk of cancer.

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