Low Plasma Coenzyme Q10 Levels and Breast Cancer Risk in Chinese Women

Background: Low circulating levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) have been associated with increased cancer incidence and poor prognosis for a number of cancer types, while a recent prospective study observed a positive association for CoQ10 with breast cancer risk.

Methods: We prospectively examined the association of plasma CoQ10 with breast cancer risk in a nested case-control study of Chinese women within the Shanghai Women’s Health Study (SWHS). Prediagnostic plasma samples were obtained from 340 cases and 653 age-matched controls and analyzed for total CoQ10.

Results: A borderline significant inverse association for breast cancer incidence with plasma CoQ10 level was observed by a conditional logistic regression model adjusted for age and age at first live birth, which became significant after elimination of cases diagnosed within 1 year of blood draw (Ptrend = 0.03). This association was independent of menopausal status. Plasma CoQ10 levels were also observed to be significantly associated with circulating γ-tocopherol (r = 0.50; P < 0.0001) and α-tocopherol (r = 0.38; P < 0.0001) levels.

Conclusions: Circulating levels of CoQ10 were generally low in this population and the observed association with breast cancer risk may be limited to those women with exceptionally low values.