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Nutr Hosp. 2011 Mar-Apr;26(2):293-7. doi: 10.1590/S0212-16112011000200008.

Analysis of plasma and erythrocyte zinc levels in premenopausal women with breast cancer.

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Department of Nutrition, Federal University of Piauí, Teresina, Piauí, Brazil.



Zinc deficiency has been associated with damage and oxidative changes in DNA that may increase an individual's risk of cancer. Furthermore, zinc metabolism may be affected in cancer patients, leading to alterations in its distribution that would favor carcinogenesis. Plasma and erythrocyte zinc levels in women with breast cancer were evaluated in this cross-sectional, controlled study.


Fifty-five premenopausal women of 25 to 49 years of age with and without breast cancer were divided into two groups: Group A, composed of women without breast cancer (controls, n = 26) and Group B, composed of women with breast cancer (cases, n = 29). Plasma and erythrocyte zinc levels were measured by flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry at γ = 213.9 nm. Diet was assessed using the 3-day diet recall method and analyzed using the NutWin software program, version 1.5. Student's t-test was used to compare means and significance was established at p = 0.05.


Mean plasma zinc levels were 69.69 ± 9.00 g/dL in the breast cancer patients and 65.93 ± 12.44 g/dL in the controls (p = 0.201). Mean erythrocyte zinc level was 41.86 ± 8.28 μgZn/gHb in the cases and 47.93 ± 7.00 μgZn/gHb in the controls (p < 0.05). In both groups, dietary zinc levels were above the estimated average requirement.


The present results suggest that zinc levels are lower in the erythrocyte compartment of pre-menopausal women with breast cancer.

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