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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Oct;14(10):2326-34.

Polymorphisms in DNA repair genes, medical exposure to ionizing radiation, and breast cancer risk.

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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, CB 7400, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400, USA.


An epidemiologic study was conducted to determine whether polymorphisms in DNA repair genes modify the association between breast cancer risk and exposure to ionizing radiation. Self-reported exposure to ionizing radiation from medical sources was evaluated as part of a population-based, case-control study of breast cancer in African-American (894 cases and 788 controls) and White (1,417 cases and 1,234 controls) women. Genotyping was conducted for polymorphisms in four genes involved in repair of radiation-induced DNA damage, the double-strand break repair pathway: X-ray cross-complementing group 3 (XRCC3) codon 241 Thr/Met, Nijmegen breakage syndrome 1 (NBS1) codon 185 Glu/Gln, X-ray cross-complementing group 2 (XRCC2) codon 188 Arg/His, and breast cancer susceptibility gene 2 (BRCH2) codon 372 Asn/His. Allele and genotype frequencies were not significantly different in cases compared with controls for all four genetic polymorphisms, and odds ratios for breast cancer were close to the null. Combining women with two, three, and four variant genotypes, a positive association was observed between breast cancer and number of lifetime mammograms (P(trend) < 0.0001). No association was observed among women with zero or one variant genotype (P = 0.86). Odds ratios for radiation treatments to the chest and number of lifetime chest X-rays were slightly elevated but not statistically significant among women with two to four variant genotypes. The study has several limitations, including inability to distinguish between diagnostic and screening mammograms or reliably classify prediagnostic mammograms and chest X-rays in cases. Prospective studies are needed to address whether common polymorphisms in DNA repair genes modify the effects of low-dose radiation exposure from medical sources.

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