MTHFR polymorphisms, dietary folate intake, and breast cancer risk: results from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Study

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Feb;13(2):190-6. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.epi-03-0273.


Folate plays an important role in DNA methylation, synthesis, and repair; intake has been associated with breast cancer. The folate-metabolizing enzyme, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is polymorphic at nucleotides 677 (C-->T) and 1298 (A-->C), resulting in allozymes with decreased activity. We evaluated these two common polymorphisms and their effects on the folate intake and breast cancer risk association in a population-based case-control study of 1144 breast cancer cases and 1236 controls using a PCR-RFLP-based assay. All subjects completed in-person interviews, which included a food frequency questionnaire. Unconditional logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals, after adjusting for potential confounding factors. Cases and controls were similar in the distribution of MTHFR polymorphisms at codons 677 (41.4% cases and 41.8% controls carried the T allele) and 1298 (17.6% cases and 17.5% controls carried the C allele). An inverse association of breast cancer risk with folate intake was observed in all genotype groups, particularly among subjects with the 677TT genotype. Compared with those with the 677CC genotype and high folate, the adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) associated with low folate intake were 1.94 (1.15-3.26), 2.17 (1.34-3.51), and 2.51 (1.37-4.60) for subjects who had CC, CT, and TT genotypes (p for interaction, 0.05). No modifying effect of A1298C genotypes on the association of folate intake with breast cancer risk was observed. Results of this study suggest that the MTHFR C677T polymorphisms may modify the association between dietary folate intake and breast cancer risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • China / epidemiology
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA Repair
  • Diet
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / metabolism*
  • Folic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Hematinics / metabolism*
  • Hematinics / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2) / genetics*
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2) / pharmacology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Hematinics
  • Folic Acid
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2)