Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas and an endogenous signaling molecule. Some studies involving cell lines have revealed the potential antibreast cancer effects of CO. Data on such effects in humans, however, are limited. Thus, we conducted a study on patients with CO poisoning (COP) to evaluate the effects of CO on the risk of breast cancer. We identified female patients who were diagnosed with COP over the period of 2002 and 2009 from the Nationwide Poisoning Database of Taiwan. For comparison, we selected females without COP from the National Health Insurance Research Database. Participants in the COP and comparison cohorts were matched on the index year, age, monthly income, and geographic region of residence at a 1:6 ratio. We followed up the two cohorts until the end of 2014 and compared their risks of developing breast cancer. We included 7053 participants with COP and 42,318 participants without COP. Participants with COP were at a lower risk of developing breast cancer than those without COP (0.7% vs. 1.0%, p < 0.001). Cox proportional hazard regression analyses revealed that COP was associated with a hazard ratio of 0.67 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.50–0.90) for breast cancer after we adjusted for age, monthly income, geographic region, and comorbidities of hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia. Our result provides evidence for the potential protective effects of CO against breast cancer in humans. Further studies that directly evaluate the potential effects are warranted.
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