Gene-environment interactions and colorectal cancer risk: an umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies

Tian Yang, Xue Li, Zahra Montazeri, Julian Little, Susan Farrington, John PA Ioannidis, Malcolm Dunlop, Harry Campbell, Maria Timofeeva, Evropi Theodoratou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The cause of colorectal cancer (CRC) is multifactorial, involving both genetic variants and environmental risk factors. We systematically searched the MEDLINE, EMBASE, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) and Wanfang databases from inception to December 2016, to identify systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies that investigated gene-environment (G × E) interactions in CRC risk. Then, we critically evaluated the cumulative evidence for the G × E interactions using an extension of the Human Genome Epidemiology Network's Venice criteria. Overall, 15 articles reporting systematic reviews of observational studies on 89 G × E interactions, 20 articles reporting meta-analyses of candidate gene- or single-nucleotide polymorphisms-based studies on 521 G × E interactions, and 8 articles reporting 33 genome-wide G × E interaction analyses were identified. On the basis of prior and observed scores, only the interaction between rs6983267 (8q24) and aspirin use was found to have a moderate overall credibility score as well as main genetic and environmental effects. Though 5 other interactions were also found to have moderate evidence, these interaction effects were tenuous due to the lack of main genetic effects and/or environmental effects. We did not find highly convincing evidence for any interactions, but several associations were found to have moderate or weak strength of evidence. Our conclusions are based on application of the Venice criteria which were designed to provide a conservative assessment of gene-environment interactions and thus do not include an evaluation of biological plausibility of an observed joint effect. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Early online date11 Dec 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2018

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