Trace Elements and Heavy Metals in Hair of Stage III Breast Cancer Patients

This prospective study was designed to compare the hair levels of 36 elements in 52 patients with stage III breast cancer to those of an equal number of healthy individuals. Principal component and cluster analysis were used for source of identification and apportionment of heavy metals and trace elements in these two groups. A higher average level of iron was found in samples from patients while controls had higher levels of calcium. Both patients and controls had elevated levels of tin, magnesium, zinc, and sodium. Almost all element values in cancer patients showed higher dispersion and asymmetry than in healthy controls. Between the two groups, there were statistically significant differences in the concentrations of silver, arsenic, gold, boron, barium, beryllium, calcium, cadmium, cerium, cobalt, cesium, gadolinium, manganese, nickel, lead, antimony, scandium, selenium, and zinc (p < 0.05). Strong positive correlations were found between lead and gold (r = 0.785) in the cancer group and between palladium and cobalt (r  = 0.945) in the healthy individuals. Our results show that there are distinct patterns of heavy metals and trace elements in the hair of breast cancer patients in comparison to healthy controls. These results could be of significance in the diagnosis of breast cancer.