McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Deborah Jarret

Major and Classification

Biochemistry

Faculty Mentors

  • Professor Mimi C. Yu

Department

  • Preventive Medicine

McNair Project

"Tea Polyphenols and Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) genotype in relation to Breast Cancer risk"

Breast cancer is the leading cancer among women. Both environmental and genetic factors have been linked to breast cancer risk. The purpose of this study is to further analyze the gene-environment interaction, specifically that between Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene and tea consumption, in relation to breast cancer risk among Chinese women in the Singapore-Chinese Health Study. COMT exists as a polymorphism: those who have high activity COMT carry (H/H) alleles, those who have low activity COMT carry (L/L) alleles, and those who have both activities carry (H/L) alleles. COMT is involved in the metabolism and excretion of tea polyphenols, which have been shown to possess anticarcinogenic properties. Recently, Wu and colleagues at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center revealed that green or black tea has an inverse relation to breast cancer risk among Asian-American (Chinese-, Japanese- and Filipino-American) women who posses low activity COMT genotype in Los Angeles, California. Based on these observations, it is hypothesized that people who carry low activity COMT genotype, and have breast cancer in a cohort of Chinese women from Singapore will also derive the most benefit from tea polyphenols' protection against breast cancer risk.