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Cancer Detect Prev. 1999;23(3):232-7.

Role of estradiol metabolism and CYP1A1 polymorphisms in breast cancer risk.

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  • 1Institute of Environmental Medicine, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY 10016, USA.


The endogenous metabolism of estrogens is primarily oxidative and involves hydroxylation of the steroid at either C2 (2-OHE1) or C16 (16-OHE1). While the 2-OHE1 metabolites are essentially devoid of peripheral biological activity, 16-OHE1 is an estrogen agonist. There is evidence of an association between the 2-OHE1/16-OHE1 metabolites ratio and breast cancer risk. The CYP1A1 gene may play a role in the 2-hydroxylation (2-OH) of estradiol. African-American women with the wild-type CYP1A1 gene showed a significant increase in the 2-OHE1/16-OHE1 ratio, from 1.35 +/- 0.56 at baseline to 2.39 +/- 0.98 (p = 0.006) after 5 days of treatment with indole-3-carbinol (400 mg/day), a 2-OHE1 inducer. Women with the Msp1 polymorphism showed no significant increase, (0.37% +/- 0.17%). In a case-control study involving 57 women with breast cancer and 312 female controls, the frequency of the homozygous Msp1 polymorphism was 4.2% in African-American controls and 16% in African-American breast cancer cases. The odds ratio of breast cancer with the Msp1 homozygous variant was 8.4 (95% confidence interval: 1.7-41.7). This association was not observed in Caucasian women. The other CYP1A1 polymorphisms were not associated with breast cancer. The CYP1A1 Msp1 polymorphism may be a marker of altered estradiol metabolism and of increased susceptibility to estrogen-related breast cancer in African-Americans.

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