Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) gene polymorphism and breast cancer risk in young women

Br J Cancer. 2001 Sep 14;85(6):859-62. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2001.2009.


Oestrogen exposure has long been considered to be a main risk factor of breast cancer. More recently, interest has also focused on the possible carcinogenic influence from oestrogen metabolites, such as catechol oestrogens. O-methylation, catalysed by Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT), is one pathway by which the potentially carcinogenic catechol oestrogens can be inactivated. The gene coding for COMT protein contains a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), resulting in an amino acid shift Val-->Met, which has been shown to determine high- and low-activity configuration of the enzyme. We hypothesized that the low-activity allele, COMT(Met), may be implicated in early onset breast cancer. In the present case-control study, including 126 young breast cancer patients (<or= 36 years) and 117 healthy female blood donors, we analysed the association between COMT(Met) genotype and risk of breast cancer. No significant difference in the frequency of low-/high-activity alleles was found between cases and controls, indicating that the polymorphism, as a single factor, may not contribute to breast carcinogenesis in young women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Methionine / chemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Polymorphism, Single-Stranded Conformational
  • Risk Assessment
  • Valine / chemistry


  • DNA Primers
  • Methionine
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase
  • Valine