Glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms and colorectal cancer: a HuGE review

Am J Epidemiol. 2000 Jan 1;151(1):7-32. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a010124.


The genes glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) (chromosome 1p13.3) and glutathione S-transferase T1 (GSTT1) (22q11.2) code for cytosolic enzymes glutathione S-transferase (GST)-mu and GST-theta, respectively, which are involved in phase 2 metabolism. Both genes may be deleted. There is geographic and ethnic variation in genotype frequencies for both genes. In developed countries, colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer. Colorectal cancer has been inconsistently associated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in diet and tobacco. Because GST enzymes are involved in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolism, it has been postulated that genotype may modify colorectal cancer risk associated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure. No consistent associations between GSTM1 or GSTT1 genotype and colorectal cancer have been observed. However, most studies have methodological limitations. Few have investigated gene-environment interactions. No interactions between GSTM1 or GSTT1 genotype and smoking and colorectal cancer risk have been reported. One polyp study suggests an interaction between GSTM1 genotype and smoking. Two studies suggest increased disease risk in subjects with high meat intake and GST nonnull genotype, contrary to the underlying hypothesis. One study suggests a strong inverse relation between colorectal adenomas and broccoli consumption, particularly in subjects who are GSTM1 null. These finding require confirmation. Methods for determining GSTM1 and GSTT1 genotype are well established. Population testing is not currently justified.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 1 / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genome, Human
  • Genotype
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Risk Factors


  • glutathione S-transferase T1
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • glutathione S-transferase M1