Does Zinc Have an Effect on Breast Cancer?

Recent research carried out in Wales and England and published in the journal Science Signaling reported the discovery of the switch that releases zinc into cells and says this may be key to improving treatment for some types of aggressive breast cancer. Earlier research concluded that too much or too little zinc could cause cell death and there was evidence that linked zinc to disease states such as diabetes and cancer. In previous research this team linked zinc delivery to some types of breast cancer

From research it was also known that zinc levels were controlled by protein molecules called zinc transporters that moved the zinc in and out of cells to ensure correct levels but it was unknown how this process worked. The research group discovered a switch,known as CK2, a protein, that opens one transporter, called ZIP7 and allows the zinc to flow. Higher levels of intracellular zinc and ZIP7 were found in tamoxifen-resistant breast cancers. The discovery that CK2 opens ZIP7 means that drugs which block the release of zinc might also block cancer development. Early results from their clinical trials of CK2 inhibitors indicate they are working well. The researchers said “We know that zinc, in the right quantities, is vital for development, our immune systems and many other aspects of human health. But when something goes wrong with the body’s zinc delivery system, it looks likes as though disease can result. In particular, our research has shown a link to highly aggressive forms of breast cancer….if we can block malfunctioning transporter channels, we can potentially halt the growth of these forms of cancer.”

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