Stable Peptide of the Endogenous Opioid Enkephalin Precursor and Breast Cancer Risk.

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In experimental studies, enkephalins (ENKs) and related opioids have been implicated as negative regulators of breast cancer development by enhancing immune-mediated tumoral defense as well as directly inhibiting cancer cells. We hypothesized that plasma levels of ENKs are predictive of the long-term breast cancer risk. Therefore, our objective was to measure pro-ENK A, a surrogate for mature ENK, and evaluate its predictive value for the development of breast cancer in a large population of middle-aged women and an independent study population.