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To investigate the association of serum copper and zinc with mortality from cancer and cardiovascular disease, the authors performed a case-control analysis of data obtained in a Dutch prospective follow-up study. Cancer (n = 64) and cardiovascular disease (n = 62) deaths and their matched controls were taken from a cohort of 10,532 persons examined in 1975-1978. Trace elements were measured in baseline serum samples, which had been stored during the six to nine years of follow-up. The adjusted risk of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease was about four times higher for subjects in the highest serum copper quintile (greater than 1.43 mg/liter) compared with those with normal levels. The excess mortality observed in subjects with low copper status suggests a U-shaped relation. No significant change in the risk of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease was found for subjects with low or high baseline levels of serum zinc. However, a protective effect of a high zinc status on the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease is compatible with the data. For definitive conclusions, analysis of larger prospective data sets is recommended.


Journal article


Am J Epidemiol

Publication Date





352 - 359


Aged, Cardiovascular Diseases, Copper, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasms, Netherlands, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors, Zinc