Diets with high inflammatory potential are suspected to increase risk for pancreatic cancer (PC). Using pooled analyses, we examined whether this association applies to populations from different geographic regions and population subgroups with varying risks for PC, including variation in ABO blood type. Data from six case-control studies (cases, n = 2414; controls, n = 4528) in the Pancreatic Cancer Case-Control Consortium (PanC4) were analyzed, followed by replication in five nested case-control studies (cases, n = 1268; controls, n = 4215) from the Pancreatic Cancer Cohort Consortium (PanScan). Two polymorphisms in the ABO locus (rs505922 and rs8176746) were used to infer participants' blood types. Dietary questionnaire-derived nutrient/food intake was used to compute energy-adjusted dietary inflammatory index (E-DII®) scores to assess inflammatory potential of diet. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using multivariable-adjusted logistic regression. Higher E-DII scores, reflecting greater inflammatory potential of diet, were associated with increased PC risk in PanC4 [ORQ5 versus Q1=2.20, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.85-2.61, Ptrend < 0.0001; ORcontinuous = 1.20, 95% CI = 1.17-1.24], and PanScan (ORQ5 versus Q1 = 1.23, 95% CI = 0.92-1.66, Ptrend = 0.008; ORcontinuous = 1.09, 95% CI = 1.02-1.15). As expected, genotype-derived non-O blood type was associated with increased PC risk in both the PanC4 and PanScan studies. Stratified analyses of associations between E-DII quintiles and PC by genotype-derived ABO blood type did not show interaction by blood type (Pinteraction = 0.10 in PanC4 and Pinteraction=0.13 in PanScan). The results show that consuming a pro-inflammatory diet and carrying non-O blood type are each individually, but not interactively, associated with increased PC risk.
The dissemination of cancer cells to local and distant sites depends on a complex and poorly understood interplay between malignant cells and the cellular and non-cellular components surrounding them, collectively termed the tumour microenvironment. One of the most abundant cell types of the tumour microenvironment is the fibroblast, which becomes corrupted by locally derived cues such as TGF-β1 and acquires an altered, heterogeneous phenotype (cancer-associated fibroblasts, CAF) supportive of tumour cell invasion and metastasis. Efforts to develop new treatments targeting the tumour mesenchyme are hampered by a poor understanding of the mechanisms underlying the development of CAF. Here, we examine the contribution of microRNA to the development of experimentally-derived CAF and correlate this with changes observed in CAF derived from tumours. Exposure of primary normal human fibroblasts to TGF-β1 resulted in the acquisition of a myofibroblastic CAF-like phenotype. This was associated with increased expression of miR-145, a miRNA predicted in silico to target multiple components of the TGF-β signalling pathway. miR-145 was also overexpressed in CAF derived from oral cancers. Overexpression of miR-145 blocked TGF-β1-induced myofibroblastic differentiation and reverted CAF towards a normal fibroblast phenotype. We conclude that miR-145 is a key regulator of the CAF phenotype, acting in a negative feedback loop to dampen acquisition of myofibroblastic traits, a key feature of CAF associated with poor disease outcome.
Microbial infection has been shown to involve in oral carcinogenesis; however, the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. The present study aimed to characterize the growth of oral microorganisms as both monospecies and polymicrobial biofilms and determine the effects of their products on oral keratinocytes. Candida albicans (ALC3), Actinomyces naeslundii (AN) and Streptococcus mutans (SM) biofilms or a combination of these (TRI) were grown in flow-cell system for 24 h. The biofilms were subjected to fluorescent in situ hybridization using species-specific probes and analysed using confocal laser scanning microscopy. The effluent derived from each biofilm was collected and incubated with malignant (H357) and normal (OKF6) oral keratinocytes to assess extracellular matrix adhesion, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cytokines expression. Incubation of OKF6 with ALC3 and TRI effluent significantly decreased adhesion of the oral keratinocyte to collagen I, whereas incubation of H357 with similar effluent increased adhesion of the oral keratinocyte to laminin I, significantly when compared with incubation with artificial saliva containing serum-free medium (NE; P < 0.05). In OKF6, changes in E-cadherin and vimentin expression were not consistent with EMT although there was evidence of a mesenchymal to epithelial transition in malignant oral keratinocytes incubated with AN and SM effluent. A significant increase of pro-inflammatory cytokines expression, particularly interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8, was observed when H357 was incubated with all biofilm effluents after 2- and 24-h incubation when compared with NE (P < 0.05). In conclusion, C.albicans, A.naeslundii and S.mutans form polymicrobial biofilms which differentially modulate malignant phenotype of oral keratinocytes.
Genome-wide association studies have identified 20 genomic regions associated with risk of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), but many additional risk variants may exist. Here, we evaluated associations between common genetic variants [single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and indels] in DNA repair genes and EOC risk. We genotyped 2896 common variants at 143 gene loci in DNA samples from 15 397 patients with invasive EOC and controls. We found evidence of associations with EOC risk for variants at FANCA, EXO1, E2F4, E2F2, CREB5 and CHEK2 genes (P ≤ 0.001). The strongest risk association was for CHEK2 SNP rs17507066 with serous EOC (P = 4.74 x 10(-7)). Additional genotyping and imputation of genotypes from the 1000 genomes project identified a slightly more significant association for CHEK2 SNP rs6005807 (r (2) with rs17507066 = 0.84, odds ratio (OR) 1.17, 95% CI 1.11-1.24, P = 1.1×10(-7)). We identified 293 variants in the region with likelihood ratios of less than 1:100 for representing the causal variant. Functional annotation identified 25 candidate SNPs that alter transcription factor binding sites within regulatory elements active in EOC precursor tissues. In The Cancer Genome Atlas dataset, CHEK2 gene expression was significantly higher in primary EOCs compared to normal fallopian tube tissues (P = 3.72×10(-8)). We also identified an association between genotypes of the candidate causal SNP rs12166475 (r (2) = 0.99 with rs6005807) and CHEK2 expression (P = 2.70×10(-8)). These data suggest that common variants at 22q12.1 are associated with risk of serous EOC and CHEK2 as a plausible target susceptibility gene.
Lifestyle factors are responsible for a considerable portion of cancer incidence worldwide, but credible estimates from the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) suggest that the fraction of cancers attributable to toxic environmental exposures is between 7% and 19%. To explore the hypothesis that low-dose exposures to mixtures of chemicals in the environment may be combining to contribute to environmental carcinogenesis, we reviewed 11 hallmark phenotypes of cancer, multiple priority target sites for disruption in each area and prototypical chemical disruptors for all targets, this included dose-response characterizations, evidence of low-dose effects and cross-hallmark effects for all targets and chemicals. In total, 85 examples of chemicals were reviewed for actions on key pathways/mechanisms related to carcinogenesis. Only 15% (13/85) were found to have evidence of a dose-response threshold, whereas 59% (50/85) exerted low-dose effects. No dose-response information was found for the remaining 26% (22/85). Our analysis suggests that the cumulative effects of individual (non-carcinogenic) chemicals acting on different pathways, and a variety of related systems, organs, tissues and cells could plausibly conspire to produce carcinogenic synergies. Additional basic research on carcinogenesis and research focused on low-dose effects of chemical mixtures needs to be rigorously pursued before the merits of this hypothesis can be further advanced. However, the structure of the World Health Organization International Programme on Chemical Safety 'Mode of Action' framework should be revisited as it has inherent weaknesses that are not fully aligned with our current understanding of cancer biology.
An emerging area in environmental toxicology is the role that chemicals and chemical mixtures have on the cells of the human immune system. This is an important area of research that has been most widely pursued in relation to autoimmune diseases and allergy/asthma as opposed to cancer causation. This is despite the well-recognized role that innate and adaptive immunity play as essential factors in tumorigenesis. Here, we review the role that the innate immune cells of inflammatory responses play in tumorigenesis. Focus is placed on the molecules and pathways that have been mechanistically linked with tumor-associated inflammation. Within the context of chemically induced disturbances in immune function as co-factors in carcinogenesis, the evidence linking environmental toxicant exposures with perturbation in the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory responses is reviewed. Reported effects of bisphenol A, atrazine, phthalates and other common toxicants on molecular and cellular targets involved in tumor-associated inflammation (e.g. cyclooxygenase/prostaglandin E2, nuclear factor kappa B, nitric oxide synthesis, cytokines and chemokines) are presented as example chemically mediated target molecule perturbations relevant to cancer. Commentary on areas of additional research including the need for innovation and integration of systems biology approaches to the study of environmental exposures and cancer causation are presented.
Environmental contributions to cancer development are widely accepted, but only a fraction of all pertinent exposures have probably been identified. Traditional toxicological approaches to the problem have largely focused on the effects of individual agents at singular endpoints. As such, they have incompletely addressed both the pro-carcinogenic contributions of environmentally relevant low-dose chemical mixtures and the fact that exposures can influence multiple cancer-associated endpoints over varying timescales. Of these endpoints, dysregulated metabolism is one of the most common and recognizable features of cancer, but its specific roles in exposure-associated cancer development remain poorly understood. Most studies have focused on discrete aspects of cancer metabolism and have incompletely considered both its dynamic integrated nature and the complex controlling influences of substrate availability, external trophic signals and environmental conditions. Emerging high throughput approaches to environmental risk assessment also do not directly address the metabolic causes or consequences of changes in gene expression. As such, there is a compelling need to establish common or complementary frameworks for further exploration that experimentally and conceptually consider the gestalt of cancer metabolism and its causal relationships to both carcinogenesis and the development of other cancer hallmarks. A literature review to identify environmentally relevant exposures unambiguously linked to both cancer development and dysregulated metabolism suggests major gaps in our understanding of exposure-associated carcinogenesis and metabolic reprogramming. Although limited evidence exists to support primary causal roles for metabolism in carcinogenesis, the universality of altered cancer metabolism underscores its fundamental biological importance, and multiple pleiomorphic, even dichotomous, roles for metabolism in promoting, antagonizing or otherwise enabling the development and selection of cancer are suggested.
Genome instability is a prerequisite for the development of cancer. It occurs when genome maintenance systems fail to safeguard the genome's integrity, whether as a consequence of inherited defects or induced via exposure to environmental agents (chemicals, biological agents and radiation). Thus, genome instability can be defined as an enhanced tendency for the genome to acquire mutations; ranging from changes to the nucleotide sequence to chromosomal gain, rearrangements or loss. This review raises the hypothesis that in addition to known human carcinogens, exposure to low dose of other chemicals present in our modern society could contribute to carcinogenesis by indirectly affecting genome stability. The selected chemicals with their mechanisms of action proposed to indirectly contribute to genome instability are: heavy metals (DNA repair, epigenetic modification, DNA damage signaling, telomere length), acrylamide (DNA repair, chromosome segregation), bisphenol A (epigenetic modification, DNA damage signaling, mitochondrial function, chromosome segregation), benomyl (chromosome segregation), quinones (epigenetic modification) and nano-sized particles (epigenetic pathways, mitochondrial function, chromosome segregation, telomere length). The purpose of this review is to describe the crucial aspects of genome instability, to outline the ways in which environmental chemicals can affect this cancer hallmark and to identify candidate chemicals for further study. The overall aim is to make scientists aware of the increasing need to unravel the underlying mechanisms via which chemicals at low doses can induce genome instability and thus promote carcinogenesis.
Cell death is a process of dying within biological cells that are ceasing to function. This process is essential in regulating organism development, tissue homeostasis, and to eliminate cells in the body that are irreparably damaged. In general, dysfunction in normal cellular death is tightly linked to cancer progression. Specifically, the up-regulation of pro-survival factors, including oncogenic factors and antiapoptotic signaling pathways, and the down-regulation of pro-apoptotic factors, including tumor suppressive factors, confers resistance to cell death in tumor cells, which supports the emergence of a fully immortalized cellular phenotype. This review considers the potential relevance of ubiquitous environmental chemical exposures that have been shown to disrupt key pathways and mechanisms associated with this sort of dysfunction. Specifically, bisphenol A, chlorothalonil, dibutyl phthalate, dichlorvos, lindane, linuron, methoxychlor and oxyfluorfen are discussed as prototypical chemical disruptors; as their effects relate to resistance to cell death, as constituents within environmental mixtures and as potential contributors to environmental carcinogenesis.
The aim of this work is to review current knowledge relating the established cancer hallmark, sustained cell proliferation to the existence of chemicals present as low dose mixtures in the environment. Normal cell proliferation is under tight control, i.e. cells respond to a signal to proliferate, and although most cells continue to proliferate into adult life, the multiplication ceases once the stimulatory signal disappears or if the cells are exposed to growth inhibitory signals. Under such circumstances, normal cells remain quiescent until they are stimulated to resume further proliferation. In contrast, tumour cells are unable to halt proliferation, either when subjected to growth inhibitory signals or in the absence of growth stimulatory signals. Environmental chemicals with carcinogenic potential may cause sustained cell proliferation by interfering with some cell proliferation control mechanisms committing cells to an indefinite proliferative span.
As part of the Halifax Project, this review brings attention to the potential effects of environmental chemicals on important molecular and cellular regulators of the cancer hallmark of evading growth suppression. Specifically, we review the mechanisms by which cancer cells escape the growth-inhibitory signals of p53, retinoblastoma protein, transforming growth factor-beta, gap junctions and contact inhibition. We discuss the effects of selected environmental chemicals on these mechanisms of growth inhibition and cross-reference the effects of these chemicals in other classical cancer hallmarks.
Carcinogenesis is thought to be a multistep process, with clonal evolution playing a central role in the process. Clonal evolution involves the repeated 'selection and succession' of rare variant cells that acquire a growth advantage over the remaining cell population through the acquisition of 'driver mutations' enabling a selective advantage in a particular micro-environment. Clonal selection is the driving force behind tumorigenesis and possesses three basic requirements: (i) effective competitive proliferation of the variant clone when compared with its neighboring cells, (ii) acquisition of an indefinite capacity for self-renewal, and (iii) establishment of sufficiently high levels of genetic and epigenetic variability to permit the emergence of rare variants. However, several questions regarding the process of clonal evolution remain. Which cellular processes initiate carcinogenesis in the first place? To what extent are environmental carcinogens responsible for the initiation of clonal evolution? What are the roles of genotoxic and non-genotoxic carcinogens in carcinogenesis? What are the underlying mechanisms responsible for chemical carcinogen-induced cellular immortality? Here, we explore the possible mechanisms of cellular immortalization, the contribution of immortalization to tumorigenesis and the mechanisms by which chemical carcinogens may contribute to these processes.
Potentially carcinogenic compounds may cause cancer through direct DNA damage or through indirect cellular or physiological effects. To study possible carcinogens, the fields of endocrinology, genetics, epigenetics, medicine, environmental health, toxicology, pharmacology and oncology must be considered. Disruptive chemicals may also contribute to multiple stages of tumor development through effects on the tumor microenvironment. In turn, the tumor microenvironment consists of a complex interaction among blood vessels that feed the tumor, the extracellular matrix that provides structural and biochemical support, signaling molecules that send messages and soluble factors such as cytokines. The tumor microenvironment also consists of many host cellular effectors including multipotent stromal cells/mesenchymal stem cells, fibroblasts, endothelial cell precursors, antigen-presenting cells, lymphocytes and innate immune cells. Carcinogens can influence the tumor microenvironment through effects on epithelial cells, the most common origin of cancer, as well as on stromal cells, extracellular matrix components and immune cells. Here, we review how environmental exposures can perturb the tumor microenvironment. We suggest a role for disrupting chemicals such as nickel chloride, Bisphenol A, butyltins, methylmercury and paraquat as well as more traditional carcinogens, such as radiation, and pharmaceuticals, such as diabetes medications, in the disruption of the tumor microenvironment. Further studies interrogating the role of chemicals and their mixtures in dose-dependent effects on the tumor microenvironment could have important general mechanistic implications for the etiology and prevention of tumorigenesis.
The purpose of this review is to stimulate new ideas regarding low-dose environmental mixtures and carcinogens and their potential to promote invasion and metastasis. Whereas a number of chapters in this review are devoted to the role of low-dose environmental mixtures and carcinogens in the promotion of invasion and metastasis in specific tumors such as breast and prostate, the overarching theme is the role of low-dose carcinogens in the progression of cancer stem cells. It is becoming clearer that cancer stem cells in a tumor are the ones that assume invasive properties and colonize distant organs. Therefore, low-dose contaminants that trigger epithelial-mesenchymal transition, for example, in these cells are of particular interest in this review. This we hope will lead to the collaboration between scientists who have dedicated their professional life to the study of carcinogens and those whose interests are exclusively in the arena of tissue invasion and metastasis.
One of the important 'hallmarks' of cancer is angiogenesis, which is the process of formation of new blood vessels that are necessary for tumor expansion, invasion and metastasis. Under normal physiological conditions, angiogenesis is well balanced and controlled by endogenous proangiogenic factors and antiangiogenic factors. However, factors produced by cancer cells, cancer stem cells and other cell types in the tumor stroma can disrupt the balance so that the tumor microenvironment favors tumor angiogenesis. These factors include vascular endothelial growth factor, endothelial tissue factor and other membrane bound receptors that mediate multiple intracellular signaling pathways that contribute to tumor angiogenesis. Though environmental exposures to certain chemicals have been found to initiate and promote tumor development, the role of these exposures (particularly to low doses of multiple substances), is largely unknown in relation to tumor angiogenesis. This review summarizes the evidence of the role of environmental chemical bioactivity and exposure in tumor angiogenesis and carcinogenesis. We identify a number of ubiquitous (prototypical) chemicals with disruptive potential that may warrant further investigation given their selectivity for high-throughput screening assay targets associated with proangiogenic pathways. We also consider the cross-hallmark relationships of a number of important angiogenic pathway targets with other cancer hallmarks and we make recommendations for future research. Understanding of the role of low-dose exposure of chemicals with disruptive potential could help us refine our approach to cancer risk assessment, and may ultimately aid in preventing cancer by reducing or eliminating exposures to synergistic mixtures of chemicals with carcinogenic potential.
An increasing number of studies suggest an important role of host immunity as a barrier to tumor formation and progression. Complex mechanisms and multiple pathways are involved in evading innate and adaptive immune responses, with a broad spectrum of chemicals displaying the potential to adversely influence immunosurveillance. The evaluation of the cumulative effects of low-dose exposures from the occupational and natural environment, especially if multiple chemicals target the same gene(s) or pathway(s), is a challenge. We reviewed common environmental chemicals and discussed their potential effects on immunosurveillance. Our overarching objective was to review related signaling pathways influencing immune surveillance such as the pathways involving PI3K/Akt, chemokines, TGF-β, FAK, IGF-1, HIF-1α, IL-6, IL-1α, CTLA-4 and PD-1/PDL-1 could individually or collectively impact immunosurveillance. A number of chemicals that are common in the anthropogenic environment such as fungicides (maneb, fluoxastrobin and pyroclostrobin), herbicides (atrazine), insecticides (pyridaben and azamethiphos), the components of personal care products (triclosan and bisphenol A) and diethylhexylphthalate with pathways critical to tumor immunosurveillance. At this time, these chemicals are not recognized as human carcinogens; however, it is known that they these chemicalscan simultaneously persist in the environment and appear to have some potential interfere with the host immune response, therefore potentially contributing to promotion interacting with of immune evasion mechanisms, and promoting subsequent tumor growth and progression.
The interrelationship between malignant epithelium and the underlying stroma is of fundamental importance in tumour development and progression. In the present study, we used cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) derived from genetically unstable oral squamous cell carcinomas (GU-OSCC), tumours that are characterized by the loss of genes such as TP53 and p16INK4A and with extensive loss of heterozygosity, together with CAFs from their more genetically stable (GS) counterparts that have wild-type TP53 and p16INK4A and minimal loss of heterozygosity (GS-OSCC). Using a systems biology approach to interpret the genome-wide transcriptional profile of the CAFs, we show that transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) family members not only had biological relevance in silico but also distinguished GU-OSCC-derived CAFs from GS-OSCC CAFs and fibroblasts from normal oral mucosa. In view of the close association between TGF-β family members, we examined the expression of TGF-β1 and TGF-β2 in the different fibroblast subtypes and showed increased levels of active TGF-β1 and TGF-β2 in CAFs from GU-OSCC. CAFs from GU-OSCC, but not GS-OSCC or normal fibroblasts, induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition and down-regulated a broad spectrum of cell adhesion molecules resulting in epithelial dis-cohesion and invasion of target keratinocytes in vitro in a TGF-β-dependent manner. The results demonstrate that the TGF-β family of cytokines secreted by CAFs derived from genotype-specific oral cancer (GU-OSCC) promote, at least in part, the malignant phenotype by weakening intercellular epithelial adhesion.
Over the past 20 years, high-penetrance pathogenic mutations in genes BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, PTEN, STK11 and CDH1 and moderate-penetrance mutations in genes CHEK2, ATM, BRIP1, PALB2, RAD51C, RAD50 and NBN have been identified for breast cancer. In this study, we investigated whether there are additional variants in these 13 genes associated with breast cancer among women of Asian ancestry. We analyzed up to 654 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 6269 cases and 6624 controls of Asian descent included in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC), and up to 236 SNPs from 5794 cases and 5529 controls included in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Genetics Study (SBCGS). We found three missense variants with minor allele frequency (MAF) <0.05: rs80358978 (Gly2508Ser), rs80359065 (Lys2729Asn) and rs11571653 (Met784Val) in the BRCA2 gene, showing statistically significant associations with breast cancer risk, with P-values of 1.2 × 10-4, 1.0 × 10-3 and 5.0 × 10-3, respectively. In addition, we found four low-frequency variants (rs8176085, rs799923, rs8176173 and rs8176258) in the BRCA1 gene, one common variant in the CHEK2 gene (rs9620817), and one common variant in the PALB2 gene (rs13330119) associated with breast cancer risk at P < 0.01. Our study identified several new risk variants in BRCA1, BRCA2, CHEK2, and PALB2 genes in relation to breast cancer risk in Asian women. These results provide further insights that, in addition to the high/moderate penetrance mutations, other low-penetrance variants in these genes may also contribute to breast cancer risk.
Chromosome 5p15.33 has been identified as a lung cancer susceptibility locus, however the underlying causal mechanisms were not fully elucidated. Previous fine-mapping studies of this locus have relied on imputation or investigated a small number of known, common variants. This study represents a significant advance over previous research by investigating a large number of novel, rare variants, as well as their underlying mechanisms through telomere length. Variants for this fine-mapping study were identified through a targeted deep sequencing (average depth of coverage greater than 4000×) of 576 individuals. Subsequently, 4652 SNPs, including 1108 novel SNPs, were genotyped in 5164 cases and 5716 controls of European ancestry. After adjusting for known risk loci, rs2736100 and rs401681, we identified a new, independent lung cancer susceptibility variant in LPCAT1: rs139852726 (OR = 0.46, P = 4.73×10(-9)), and three new adenocarcinoma risk variants in TERT: rs61748181 (OR = 0.53, P = 2.64×10(-6)), rs112290073 (OR = 1.85, P = 1.27×10(-5)), rs138895564 (OR = 2.16, P = 2.06×10(-5); among young cases, OR = 3.77, P = 8.41×10(-4)). In addition, we found that rs139852726 (P = 1.44×10(-3)) was associated with telomere length in a sample of 922 healthy individuals. The gene-based SKAT-O analysis implicated TERT as the most relevant gene in the 5p15.33 region for adenocarcinoma (P = 7.84×10(-7)) and lung cancer (P = 2.37×10(-5)) risk. In this largest fine-mapping study to investigate a large number of rare and novel variants within 5p15.33, we identified novel lung and adenocarcinoma susceptibility loci with large effects and provided support for the role of telomere length as the potential underlying mechanism.
Adequate intake of copper and zinc, two essential micronutrients, are important for antioxidant functions. Their imbalance may have implications for development of diseases like colorectal cancer (CRC), where oxidative stress is thought to be etiologically involved. As evidence from prospective epidemiologic studies is lacking, we conducted a case-control study nested within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort to investigate the association between circulating levels of copper and zinc, and their calculated ratio, with risk of CRC development. Copper and zinc levels were measured by reflection X-ray fluorescence spectrometer in 966 cases and 966 matched controls. Multivariable adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using conditional logistic regression and are presented for the fifth versus first quintile. Higher circulating concentration of copper was associated with a raised CRC risk (OR = 1.50; 95% CI: 1.06, 2.13; P-trend = 0.02) whereas an inverse association with cancer risk was observed for higher zinc levels (OR = 0.65; 95% CI: 0.43, 0.97; P-trend = 0.07). Consequently, the ratio of copper/zinc was positively associated with CRC (OR = 1.70; 95% CI: 1.20, 2.40; P-trend = 0.0005). In subgroup analyses by follow-up time, the associations remained statistically significant only in those diagnosed within 2 years of blood collection. In conclusion, these data suggest that copper or copper levels in relation to zinc (copper to zinc ratio) become imbalanced in the process of CRC development. Mechanistic studies into the underlying mechanisms of regulation and action are required to further examine a possible role for higher copper and copper/zinc ratio levels in CRC development and progression.