Depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts in the etiology and prevention of breast and other human cancers

Ercole L. Cavalieri, Eleanor G. Rogan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Experiments on estrogen metabolism, formation of DNA adducts, mutagenicity, cell transformation and carcinogenicity have led to and supported the hypothesis that the reaction of specific estrogen metabolites, mostly the electrophilic catechol estrogen-3,4-quinones, with DNA can generate the critical mutations to initiate breast and other human cancers. Analysis of depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts in urine demonstrates that women at high risk of, or with breast cancer, have high levels of the adducts, indicating a critical role for adduct formation in breast cancer initiation. Men with prostate cancer or non-Hodgkin lymphoma also have high levels of estrogen-DNA adducts. This knowledge of the first step in cancer initiation suggests the use of specific antioxidants that can block formation of the adducts by chemical and biochemical mechanisms. Two antioxidants, N-acetylcysteine and resveratrol, are prime candidates to prevent breast and other human cancers because in various in vitro and in vivo experiments, they reduce the formation of estrogen-DNA adducts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-91
Number of pages17
JournalFuture Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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