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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Sep;17(9):2436-44. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0399.

Talc use, variants of the GSTM1, GSTT1, and NAT2 genes, and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer.

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Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Epidemiologic evidence suggests a possible association between genital use of talcum powder and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer; however, the biological basis for this association is not clear. We analyzed interactions between talc use and genes in detoxification pathways [glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1), glutathione S-transferase T1 (GSTT1), and N-acetyltransferase 2 (NAT2)] to assess whether the talc/ovarian cancer association is modified by variants of genes potentially involved in the response to talc. Our analysis included 1,175 cases and 1,202 controls from a New England-based case-control study and 210 cases and 600 controls from the prospective Nurses' Health Study. We genotyped participants for the GSTM1 and GSTT1 gene deletions and three NAT2 polymorphisms. We used logistic regression to analyze the main effect of talc use, genotype, and gene-talc interactions in each population and pooled the estimates using a random-effects model. Regular talc use was associated with increased ovarian cancer risk in the combined study population (RR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.14-1.63; P(trend) < 0.001). Independent of talc, the genes examined were not clearly associated with risk. However, the talc/ovarian cancer association varied by GSTT1 genotype and combined GSTM1/GSTT1 genotype. In the pooled analysis, the association with talc was stronger among women with the GSTT1-null genotype (P(interaction) = 0.03), particularly in combination with the GSTM1-present genotype (P(interaction) = 0.03). There was no clear evidence of an interaction with GSTM1 alone or NAT2. These results suggest that women with certain genetic variants may have a higher risk of ovarian cancer associated with genital talc use. Additional research is needed on these interactions and the underlying biological mechanisms.

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