To examine an association between the mitochondrial DNA (mt5178) genotype and various cancers, we genotyped 1120 non-cancer controls and 930 cancer cases including esophageal, stomach, colorectal, lung, breast and malignant lymphoma in a sample of Japanese patients. The mt5178A/C was genotyped by the polymerase chain reaction with confronting two-pair primers (PCR-CTPP). The frequency of mt5178A/C within the non-cancer and cancer groups, and age distribution of subjects with mt5178A and C were investigated. Odds ratios (ORs) of the mt5178A and C genotypes were also examined. The frequency of mt5178A was 39.1 % in non-cancer subjects while frequencies in those having cancer included 39.0 % in breast, 37.4 % in colorectal, 45.1 % in esophageal, 38.0 % in lung, 41.5 % in malignant lymphoma, and 38.8 % in stomach cancer. There was no significant difference in the frequency of the mt5178 genotype among the six types of cancer studied. There was also no significant difference in the frequency of the mt5178 genotype between non-cancer and cancer subjects regardless of total age with the exception that ages 40-49 years (the frequency of the mt5178A was higher in cancer subjects). There was a significant interaction term between age and the mt5178 genotype in older (age>=60) lung cancer patients. The cumulative frequency of mt5178C increased more markedly than that of mt5178A after age 40 in non-cancer subjects, and after age 50 in cancer subjects. ORs of the genotype were not significant for all cancers combined or for any individual site of cancer. In the present study, the mt5178 genotype seems to have no association with any of the cancers examined here. But an interaction term between the mt5178 genotype and aging on cancer was suggested within the Japanese population under study.