METHODS: The case-control portion of the study was conducted in nine UK centers with men ages 50-69 years who underwent prostate-specific antigen screening for prostate cancer within the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) trial. Two data sources were used to appraise causality: a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of metabolites in 24,925 participants and a GWAS of prostate cancer in 44,825 cases and 27,904 controls within the Association Group to Investigate Cancer Associated Alterations in the Genome (PRACTICAL) consortium.
RESULTS: Thirty-five metabolites were strongly associated with prostate cancer (P < 0.0014, multiple-testing threshold). These fell into four classes: (i) lipids and lipoprotein subclass characteristics (total cholesterol and ratios, cholesterol esters and ratios, free cholesterol and ratios, phospholipids and ratios, and triglyceride ratios); (ii) fatty acids and ratios; (iii) amino acids; (iv) and fluid balance. Fourteen top metabolites were proxied by genetic variables, but MR indicated these were not causal.
CONCLUSIONS: We identified 35 circulating metabolites associated with prostate cancer presence, but found no evidence of causality for those 14 testable with MR. Thus, the 14 MR-tested metabolites are unlikely to be mechanistically important in prostate cancer risk.
IMPACT: The metabolome provides a promising set of biomarkers that may aid prostate cancer classification.
Materials and methods: We assessed the association between plasma phospholipid fatty acids and breast cancer risk in a case-control study nested within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. Sixty fatty acids were measured by gas chromatography in pre-diagnostic plasma phospholipids from 2982 incident breast cancer cases matched to 2982 controls. Conditional logistic regression models were used to estimate relative risk of breast cancer by fatty acid level. The false discovery rate (q values) was computed to control for multiple comparisons. Subgroup analyses were carried out by estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor expression in the tumours.
Results: A high level of palmitoleic acid [odds ratio (OR) for the highest quartile compared with the lowest OR (Q4-Q1) 1.37; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.14-1.64; P for trend = 0.0001, q value = 0.004] as well as a high desaturation index (DI16) (16:1n-7/16:0) [OR (Q4-Q1), 1.28; 95% C, 1.07-1.54; P for trend = 0.002, q value = 0.037], as biomarkers of de novo lipogenesis, were significantly associated with increased risk of breast cancer. Levels of industrial trans-fatty acids were positively associated with ER-negative tumours [OR for the highest tertile compared with the lowest (T3-T1)=2.01; 95% CI, 1.03-3.90; P for trend = 0.047], whereas no association was found for ER-positive tumours (P-heterogeneity =0.01). No significant association was found between n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and breast cancer risk, overall or by hormonal receptor.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that increased de novo lipogenesis, acting through increased synthesis of palmitoleic acid, could be a relevant metabolic pathway for breast tumourigenesis. Dietary trans-fatty acids derived from industrial processes may specifically increase ER-negative breast cancer risk.