Endogenous estrogens become carcinogens when dangerous metabolites, the catechol estrogen quinones, are formed. In particular, the catechol estrogen-3,4-quinones can react with DNA to produce an excess of specific depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts. Loss of these adducts leaves apurinic sites in the DNA, generating subsequent cancer-initiating mutations. Unbalanced estrogen metabolism yields excessive catechol estrogen-3,4-quinones, increasing formation of depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts and the risk of initiating cancer. Evidence for this mechanism of cancer initiation comes from various types of studies. High levels of depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts have been observed in women with breast, ovarian or thyroid cancer, as well as in men with prostate cancer or non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Observation of high levels of depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts in high risk women before the presence of breast cancer indicates that adduct formation is a critical factor in breast cancer initiation. Formation of analogous depurinating dopamine-DNA adducts is hypothesized to initiate Parkinson's disease by affecting dopaminergic neurons. Two dietary supplements, N-acetylcysteine and resveratrol complement each other in reducing formation of catechol estrogen-3,4-quinones and inhibiting formation of estrogen-DNA adducts in cultured human and mouse breast epithelial cells. They also inhibit malignant transformation of these cells. In addition, formation of adducts was reduced in women who followed a Healthy Breast Protocol that includes N-acetylcysteine and resveratrol. When initiation of cancer is blocked, promotion, progression and development of the disease cannot occur. These results suggest that reducing formation of depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts can reduce the risk of developing a variety of types of human cancer.
- catechol estrogen-3,4-quinones
- depurinating DNA adducts
- dopamine 3,4-quinone
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research