Two different populations in two countries were studied for incidence of esophageal cancer (EC) and exposure to zinc (Zn) and molybdenum (Mo). The incidence is high among males in South Africa, especially among black males in Eastern Cape, South Africa (RSA)*. It is very low in the West Bengal state of India. Extensive studies in various parts of the world have shown EC to be associated with low levels of Zn and Mo in hair, nails, blood, and grains.
Low levels of trace minerals Zn and Mo interfere with enzyme activity, leading to increased production of nitrosamine and of methylbenzylnitrosoamine, which may lead to cancer. Previous studies of the benefit of supplemental Zn and Mo in preventing EC have shown conflicting results. The present study was of Mo and Zn levels on hair analysis of EC patients and in grains in the two different populations. Control testing was done in both locations of people without EC. Those patients did not take Zn or Mo supplements and their food came from local sources.
The dietary staple is maize in RSA and rice in West Bengal. Thirty grain samples were tested in both locations and all patients had hair analysis testing for trace minerals. The RSA EC group had significantly low Mo levels on hair analysis compared to the control group. The West Bengal EC patients did not have low Mo levels compared to controls. The RSA EC hair levels of Mo and Zn were significantly low compared to the West Bengal EC patients. The healthy RSA group had significantly low Zn and Mo levels compared to the West Bengal EC group.
There are distinct deficiencies in Zn and Mo for people of RSA on hair analysis in EC patients and healthy controls compared to the India group. These deficiencies may result from mineral dietary deficiencies, and may be the cause of high rates of EC in RSA.
CONCLUSION: Risk of esophageal cancer correlates with low levels of zinc and molybdenum on hair analysis in East Cape, South Africa, and dietary deficiencies in the food grains may be the cause.
NOTES: *Other “hot spots” for EC are Linxian, China, and in Golestan Province in northeastern Iran.
Rainbow Grocery sells the following products: Molybdenum and zinc.