Background: A growing body of evidence suggests that variations in the levels of folate may contribute to the development of cancer. A functional polymorphic variant (C-->T substitution at nucleotide 677) in the 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene results in the conversion of an alanine to a valine and may modify the risk of breast and other cancers.
Method: We have investigated the possible influence of this MTHFR variant on breast cancer risk in a case-control study of 233 healthy women and 335 women who had breast cancer that occurred under the age of 40 years, bilateral breast cancer or a family history of breast cancer.
Results: A significant excess of the valine genotypes was observed among the cases (odds ratio 1.43, 95% confidence interval 1.02-2.00). The effect was more pronounced among the cases with a breast cancer diagnosis under the age of 40 years, with an odds ratio of 1.66 (95% confidence interval 1.12-2.41). A nonsignificant excess of the valine genotypes was observed among the cases with a family history of breast cancer or bilateral breast cancer.
Conclusions: The low activity C677T (valine) genotype of MTHFR may increase the risk of early onset breast cancer.