Various common genetic susceptibility loci have been identified for breast cancer; however, it is unclear how they combine with lifestyle/environmental risk factors to influence risk. We undertook an international collaborative study to assess gene-environment interaction for risk of breast cancer. Data from 24 studies of the Breast Cancer Association Consortium were pooled. Using up to 34,793 invasive breast cancers and 41,099 controls, we examined whether the relative risks associated with 23 single nucleotide polymorphisms were modified by 10 established environmental risk factors (age at menarche, parity, breastfeeding, body mass index, height, oral contraceptive use, menopausal hormone therapy use, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, physical activity) in women of European ancestry. We used logistic regression models stratified by study and adjusted for age and performed likelihood ratio tests to assess gene–environment interactions. All statistical tests were two-sided. We replicated previously reported potential interactions between LSP1-rs3817198 and parity (Pinteraction = 2.4×10−6) and between CASP8-rs17468277 and alcohol consumption (Pinteraction = 3.1×10−4). Overall, the per-allele odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for LSP1-rs3817198 was 1.08 (1.01–1.16) in nulliparous women and ranged from 1.03 (0.96–1.10) in parous women with one birth to 1.26 (1.16–1.37) in women with at least four births. For CASP8-rs17468277, the per-allele OR was 0.91 (0.85–0.98) in those with an alcohol intake of <20 g/day and 1.45 (1.14–1.85) in those who drank ≥20 g/day. Additionally, interaction was found between 1p11.2-rs11249433 and ever being parous (Pinteraction = 5.3×10−5), with a per-allele OR of 1.14 (1.11–1.17) in parous women and 0.98 (0.92–1.05) in nulliparous women. These data provide first strong evidence that the risk of breast cancer associated with some common genetic variants may vary with environmental risk factors.
Breast cancer involves combined effects of numerous genetic, environmental, and behavioral risk factors that are unique to each individual. High risk genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, account for only a small proportion of disease occurrence. Recent genome-wide research has identified more than 20 common genetic variants, which individually alter breast cancer risk very moderately. We undertook an international collaborative study to determine whether the effect of these genetic variants vary with environmental factors, such as parity, body mass index (BMI), height, oral contraceptive use, menopausal hormone therapy use, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, and physical activity, which are known to affect risk of developing breast cancer. Using pooled data from 24 studies of the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC), we provide first convincing evidence that the breast cancer risk associated with a genetic variant in LSP1 differs with the number of births and that the risk associated with a CASP8 variant is altered by high alcohol consumption. The effect of an additional genetic variant might also be modified by reproductive factors. This knowledge will stimulate new research towards a better understanding of breast cancer development.