Genetic variants in metabolic signaling pathways may interact with lifestyle factors, such as dietary fatty acids, influencing postmenopausal colorectal cancer (CRC) risk, but these interrelated pathways are not fully understood.
In this study, we examined 54 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes related to insulin-like growth factor-I/insulin traits and their signaling pathways and lifestyle factors in relation to postmenopausal CRC, using data from 6,539 postmenopausal women in the Women's Health Initiative Harmonized and Imputed Genome-Wide Association Studies. By employing a two-stage random survival forest analysis, we evaluated the SNPs and lifestyle factors by ranking them according to their predictive value and accuracy for CRC.
We identified four SNPs (IRS1 rs1801123, IRS1 rs1801278, AKT2 rs3730256, and AKT2 rs7247515) and two lifestyle factors (age and percentage calories from saturated fatty acids) as the top six most influential predictors for CRC risk. We further examined interactive effects of those factors on cancer risk. In the individual SNP analysis, no significant association was observed, but the combination of the four SNPs, age, and percentage calories from saturated fatty acid (≥11% per day) significantly increased the risk of CRC in a gene and lifestyle dose-dependent manner.
Our findings provide insight into gene–lifestyle interactions and will enable researchers to focus on individuals with risk genotypes to promote intervention strategies. Our study suggests the careful use of data on potential genetic targets in clinical trials for cancer prevention to reduce the risk for CRC in postmenopausal women.