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Fam Cancer. 2010 Sep;9(3):357-63. doi: 10.1007/s10689-010-9334-9.

Lynch syndrome: the influence of environmental factors on extracolonic cancer risk in hMLH1 c.C1528T mutation carriers and their mutation-negative sisters.

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  • 1MRC Human Genetics Research Unit, Institute for Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, Division of Human Genetics, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.


Lynch Syndrome (LS) is a cancer susceptibility syndrome caused mostly by mutations in the mismatch repair genes, hMLH1, hMSH2 and hMSH6. Mutation carriers are at risk of colorectal and endometrial cancer and, less frequently, cancer of the ovaries, stomach, small bowel, hepatobiliary tract, ureter, renal pelvis and brain. The influence of environmental factors on extracolonic cancer risk in LS patients has not been investigated thus far. The aim of this study was to investigate some of these factors in South African females carrying the hMLH1 c.C1528T mutation and their mutation-negative relatives. Data were collected from 87 mutation-positive females and 121 mutation-negative female relatives regarding age, cancer history, hormonal contraceptive use, parity, duration of breast feeding, height, weight and age at first birth, last birth, menarche and menopause. Influence of these factors on cancer risk was analysed by mixed-effects generalised linear models. Extracolonic cancer occurred in 14% (12/87) of mutation-positive females versus 7% (8/121) of mutation-negative females, (P = 0.0279, adjusted for age and relatedness between women). Breast cancer was the most common extracolonic cancer. An association was found for oral contraceptive use and extracolonic cancer risk in mutation-negative females only. No association was found for any of the other risk factors investigated, when adjusted for age. This might be due to the scarcity of extracolonic cancers in our data. Future knowledge on the influence of additional environmental factors on cancer risk in LS females can lead to evidence-based lifestyle advice for mutation carriers, thereby complementing the prevention strategies available today. In addition, it can contribute to an integrated model of cancer aetiology. Therefore, this study should be taken as a thrust for further research.

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