Cancer mortality correlation studies--IV: associations with dietary intakes and blood levels of certain trace elements, notably Se-antagonists

Bioinorg Chem. 1977;7(1):35-56. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3061(00)80127-1.


The per-capita intakes of zinc, cadmium, copper and of chromium were estimated from food consumption data in 28 countries and were found to correlate directly with the age-corrected mortalities from cancers of intestine, prostate, breast, leukemia, skin and of other organs, suggesting that the anticarcinogenic effect of selenium is counteracted by other trace elements. Similarly calculated dietary intakes of manganese are inversely correlated, particularly with the mortalities from cancer of pancreas, an organ normally known to contain high concentrations of this element. Arsenic intakes correlate inversely with the male lung cancer mortalities. A number of other direct and inverse associations were observed which suggest that trace elements in the human diet may hav both benign and adverse effects on tumor development. The zinc concentrations in whole blood collected from healthy donors in the U.S. correlate directly with regional mortalities from cancers of intestine, breast and of other sites. The origin of these associations is discussed primarily in terms of the seleium-antagonistic effect of zinc and of some of the other elements considered. Results of animal experiments and of other studies are cited which support hypotheses that link human cancer development to possible deficiencies or excesses in the dietary trace element intakes.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Cadmium / blood
  • Chromium
  • Copper / blood
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lead / blood
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Selenium / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Trace Elements* / blood
  • Trace Elements* / pharmacology
  • United States
  • Zinc / blood


  • Trace Elements
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Lead
  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Zinc