Environmental factors such as smoking cigarette, diets and alcohol may interact with genetic factors, which put one individual at a greater or lesser risk of a particular cancer than another. Advances in molecular biology have allowed many allelic variants of several drug metabolizing enzymes so that individuals with the susceptible genotypes can be determined easily. Many pieces of research have focused on the relationship between the distribution of polymorphic variants of different forms of the metabolic enzymes and colorectal cancer susceptibility because of importance roles of the metabolic enzymes in the activation of many procarcinogens or chemicals. In this respect five groups of the metabolic enzymes, cytochrome P450 (GYP) 1A1/CYP1A2, glutathione S-transferases (GSTs), N-acetyltransferases (NATs), aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), have been discussed here. A positive association between development of colorectal cancer and the mutant homozygous genotype in Msp\ polymorphism of CYP1A1 gene has been reported in Japanese in Hawaii. The relation between genetic polymorphisms in GSTs and cancer risk has also taken an interest. At least nine studies have demonstrated the relation between the GST polymorphisms and colorectal cancer. Two of these studies suggested an increased risk of approximately 2-fold among those with the GSTM1 null genotype, while others found no risk increase. None of these studies examined the combined effect of CYP1A1 and GST polymorphisms. Either NAT2 or CYP1A2 alone have been slightly associated with colorectal cancer. When CYP1A2 and NAT2 phenotype were combined, a significant increased risk (odds ratio of 2.8) was seen among well done meat consumers with the rapid-rapid phenotype. Two published studies have found that the risk of colorectal cancer can be enhanced (2-3 fold) in alcohol drinkers with heterozygous genotype of ALDH2 in two Japanese populations recently. Findings from three published studies suggested that the mutant genotype of MTHFR inversely slightly associated with colorectal cancer. Although some of genetic polymorphisms discussed here have not shown statistically significant increase/decrease in risk, individuals with differing genotypes may have different susceptibilities to colorectal cancer, based on environmental factors. Further studies are needed to identify risk groups more specific and to determine factors of importance in colorectal cancer development.
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