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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Jun;16(6):1140-7.

Association of polymorphisms in one-carbon metabolism genes and postmenopausal breast cancer incidence.

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Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research, American Cancer Society, Northeastern, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.


The interconversion of folates by the one-carbon metabolism pathway is essential for the synthesis of precursors used in DNA synthesis, repair, and methylation. Perturbations in this pathway can disrupt these processes and are hypothesized to facilitate carcinogenesis. We investigated associations of 25 candidate polymorphisms in nine one-carbon metabolism genes with risk of postmenopausal breast cancer using 502 cases and 505 controls from the Cancer Prevention II Nutrition Cohort. Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in three different genes were significantly associated with breast cancer. The nonsynonymous R134K SNP in methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase/methenyltetrahydrofolate cyclohydrolase/formyltetrahydrofolate synthase [MTHFD1; odds ratio (OR), 1.40; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.06-1.85 for CT + TT] and an intronic SNP in formyltetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase (FTHFD; OR, 2.23; 95% CI, 1.09-4.54 for CC) were associated with a significant increase in risk. Significantly decreased risk was associated with an intronic SNP in FTHFD (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.58-0.98 for CT + CC) and the A360A SNP in cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS; OR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.41-0.96 for TT). The presence of at least one variant from both the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T and A1298C SNPs was also associated with increased risk (OR, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.34-3.48 for 677 CT + TT/1,298 AC + CC). Investigations into interactions of the associated SNPs with each other and with dietary factors yielded inconclusive results. Our findings indicate that genetic variation in multiple one-carbon metabolism genes may influence risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and may involve changes in methyl donor synthesis. However, larger studies are needed to further examine gene/gene and gene/diet interactions in this pathway.

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