Prospective study of serum cysteine and cysteinylglycine and cancer of the head and neck, esophagus, and stomach in a cohort of male smokers1,2

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Abstract

Background:

The nonessential amino acid cysteine is known to be involved in many antioxidant and anticarcinogenic pathways. Cysteinylglycine is a pro-oxidant metabolite of glutathione and a precursor of cysteine.

Objective:

To examine the relation between serum cysteine and cysteinylglycine and risk of gastric adenocarcinomas, esophageal squamous cell carcinomas, and head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, we conducted a nested case-control study within the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention study of male Finnish smokers aged 50–69 y at baseline.

Design:

In total, 170 gastric adenocarcinomas, 68 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas, and 270 head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (identified from the Finnish Cancer Registry) were matched one-to-one with cancer-free control subjects on age and the date of serum collection. We calculated ORs and 95% CIs with the use of a multivariate-adjusted conditional logistic regression.

Results:

Cysteine had a U-shaped association with gastric adenocarcinomas; a model that included a linear and a squared term had a significant global P-test (P = 0.036). Serum cysteinylglycine was inversely associated with adenocarcinomas of the gastric cardia (OR for above the median compared with below the median: 0.07; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.70; n = 38 cases) but not for other sites. Both cysteine and cysteinylglycine were not associated with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma or head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Conclusions:

We observed associations between serum cysteine and cysteinylglycine with upper gastrointestinal cancer risk. Future studies are needed to replicate these findings. This trial was registered at clininicaltrials.gov as NCT00342992.

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