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Br J Cancer. 2001 Sep; 85(6): 859–862.
PMCID: PMC2375076

Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) gene polymorphism and breast cancer risk in young women


Oestrogen exposure has long been considered to be a main risk factor of breast cancer. More recently, interest has also focused on the possible carcinogenic influence from oestrogen metabolites, such as catechol oestrogens. O-methylation, catalysed by Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT), is one pathway by which the potentially carcinogenic catechol oestrogens can be inactivated. The gene coding for COMT protein contains a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), resulting in an amino acid shift Val→Met, which has been shown to determine high- and low-activity configuration of the enzyme. We hypothesized that the low-activity allele, COMTMet, may be implicated in early onset breast cancer. In the present case–control study, including 126 young breast cancer patients (≤ 36 years) and 117 healthy female blood donors, we analysed the association between COMTMet genotype and risk of breast cancer. No significant difference in the frequency of low-/high-activity alleles was found between cases and controls, indicating that the polymorphism, as a single factor, may not contribute to breast carcinogenesis in young women. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaignhttp://www.bjcancer.com

Keywords: Catechol-O-Methyltransferase, COMT, genetic polymorphism, breast cancer, early onset, catechol oestrogens

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