KA Pooley, J Tyrer, M Shah, KE Driver, J Leyland, J Brown, T Audley, L McGuffog, BAJ Ponder, PDP Pharoah, DF Easton, AM Dunning
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev
BACKGROUND: A recent study reported genetic variants in the TERT-CLPTM1L locus that were associated with mean telomere length, and with risk of multiple cancers. METHODS: We evaluated the association between single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs401681 (C > T) and mean telomere length, using quantitative real-time PCR, in blood-extracted DNA collected from 11,314 cancer-free participants from the Sisters in Breast Screening study, the Melanoma and Pigmented Lesions Evaluative Study melanoma family study, and the SEARCH Breast, Colorectal, Melanoma studies. We also examined the relationship between rs401618 genotype and susceptibility to breast cancer (6,800 cases and 6,608 controls), colorectal cancer (2,259 cases and 2,181 controls), and melanoma (787 cases and 999 controls). RESULTS: The "per T allele" change in mean telomere length (DeltaCt), adjusted for age, study plate, gender, and family was 0.001 [95% confidence intervals (CI), 0.01-0.02; P trend = 0.61]. The "per T allele" odds ratio for each cancer was 1.01 for breast cancer (95% CI, 0.96-1.06; P trend = 0.64), 1.02 for colorectal cancer (95% CI, 0.94-1.11; P trend = 0.66), and 0.99 for melanoma (95% CI, 0.84-1.15; P trend = 0.87). CONCLUSIONS: We found no evidence that this SNP was associated with mean telomere length, or with risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or melanoma. IMPACT: Our results indicate that the observed associations between rs401681 and several cancer types might be weaker than previously described. The lack of an association in our study between this SNP and mean telomere length suggests that any association with cancer risk at this locus is not mediated through TERT.