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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011 Aug 17;103(16):1252-63. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djr265. Epub 2011 Jul 26.

Interactions between genetic variants and breast cancer risk factors in the breast and prostate cancer cohort consortium.

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  • 1Genomic Epidemiology Group, German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum; DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.



Recently, several genome-wide association studies have identified various genetic susceptibility loci for breast cancer. Relatively little is known about the possible interactions between these loci and the established risk factors for breast cancer.


To assess interactions between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and established risk factors, we prospectively collected DNA samples and questionnaire data from 8576 breast cancer case subjects and 11 892 control subjects nested within the National Cancer Institute's Breast and Prostate Cancer Cohort Consortium (BPC3). We genotyped 17 germline SNPs (FGFR2-rs2981582, FGFR2-rs3750817, TNRC9-rs3803662, 2q35-rs13387042, MAP3K1-rs889312, 8q24-rs13281615, CASP8-rs1045485, LSP1-rs3817198, COL1A1-rs2075555, COX11-rs6504950, RNF146-rs2180341, 6q25-rs2046210, SLC4A7-rs4973768, NOTCH2-rs11249433, 5p12-rs4415084, 5p12-rs10941679, RAD51L1-rs999737), and odds ratios were estimated by logistic regression to confirm previously reported associations with breast cancer risk. We performed likelihood ratio test to assess interactions between 17 SNPs and nine established risk factors (age at menarche, parity, age at menopause, use of hormone replacement therapy, family history, height, body mass index, smoking status, and alcohol consumption), and a correction for multiple testing of 153 tests (adjusted P value threshold = .05/153 = 3 × 10(-4)) was done. Case-case comparisons were performed for possible differential associations of polymorphisms by subgroups of tumor stage, estrogen and progesterone receptor status, and age at diagnosis. All statistical tests were two-sided.


We confirmed the association of 14 SNPs with breast cancer risk (P(trend) = 2.57 × 10(-3) -3.96 × 10(-19)). Three SNPs (LSP1-rs3817198, COL1A1-rs2075555, and RNF146-rs2180341) did not show association with breast cancer risk. After accounting for multiple testing, no statistically significant interactions were detected between the 17 SNPs and the nine risk factors. We also confirmed that SNPs in FGFR2 and TNRC9 were associated with greater risk of estrogen receptor-positive than estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer (P(heterogeneity) = .0016 for FGFR2-rs2981582 and P(heterogeneity) = .0053 for TNRC9-rs3803662). SNP 5p12-rs10941679 was statistically significantly associated with greater risk of progesterone receptor-positive than progesterone receptor-negative breast cancer (P(heterogeneity) = .0028).


This study does not support the hypothesis that known common breast cancer susceptibility loci strongly modify the associations between established risk factors and breast cancer.

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