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Carcinogenesis. 2004 Sep;25(9):1639-47. Epub 2004 Apr 29.

Polymorphisms of folate metabolic genes and susceptibility to bladder cancer: a case-control study.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Epidemiological studies have shown an association between low folate intake and an increased cancer risk. Major genes involved in folate metabolism include methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and methionine synthase (MS). We investigated joint effects of polymorphisms of the MTHFR (677 C-->T, 1298A-->C) and MS genes (2756 A-->G), dietary folate intake and cigarette smoking on the risk of bladder cancer in a case-control study. The study population consisted of 457 bladder cancer patients and 457 healthy controls, matched to the cases in terms of age, gender and ethnicity. Genotype data were analyzed in a subset of 410 Caucasian cases and 410 controls. Compared with individuals carrying the MTHFR 677 wild-type (CC) and reporting a high folate intake, those carrying the variant genotype (CT or TT) and reporting a low folate intake were at a significantly 3.51-fold increased risk of bladder cancer (95% CI: 1.59-6.52). In contrast, individuals carrying a variant genotype and reporting a high folate intake were at only a 1.39-fold increased risk (95% CI: 0.71-2.70), and those carrying the wild-type and reporting a low folate intake were at only 1.56-fold increased risk (95% CI: 0.82-2.97). The interaction between genetic polymorphisms and folate intake was significant on the multiplicative scale (P = 0.01). When analyzed in the context of smoking status, compared with never smokers with the MTHFR 677 wild-type, the risk increased to 6.56-fold (95% CI: 3.28-13.12) in current smokers carrying the variant genotype. Analyses of the MTHFR 1298, MS 2756 genes revealed similar results. In addition, age at cancer onset in former smokers increased as the proportion of the heteromorphic haplotype in the individual increased (P = 0.005). Our results strongly suggest that polymorphisms of the MTHFR and MS genes act together with low folate intake and smoking to increase bladder cancer risk. These results have important implications for cancer prevention in susceptible populations.

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