Gene variations may have breast cancer role, team says
Published: 7th Sep 2010 10:30:12
Researchers say they have identified a series of gene variations which together may play a role in the development of a common breast cancer.
A study of women in Finland and Sweden found 121 variations in their DNA.
The Singapore team think these are linked to oestrogen production - known to play a role in a breast cancer type which afflicts post-menopausal women.
The researchers say the findings might be used to identify women who might benefit from oestrogen-lowering drugs.
The researchers examined the genetic makeup of thousands of women with and without breast cancer in Sweden and Finland.
They found 121 tiny variations in 15 different genes which they say appear to be linked to a woman's risk of developing what is known as oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer.
Ultimately, we may be able to tailor oestrogen exposure up and down to optimise health and minimise risk”
The variations are in a section of DNA close to a gene responsible for producing oestrogen and the suggestion is that the variations may play a collective role in the production of the female sex hormone.
The individual impact of each variation is minimal but if a woman is dealt a combination of these variations, say the scientists, the higher her exposure to the hormone will be, and the higher the risk of cancer.
"Breast cancer genes have been identified, for example BRCA1, BRCA2, P53, ATM. These genes have been identified with breast cancer susceptibility but mainly in breast cancers of younger women," says Dr Edison Liu of the Genome Institute of Singapore, who led the study.
"What we are finding here is potentially the genetic amplifiers for breast cancer in postmenopausal women which historically was considered not genetic in origin."
It is already established that women who start menstruating early in life or who have a late menopause have an increased risk of breast cancer, because of their longer exposure to oestrogen. This research, says Dr Liu, may reveal the genetic element to the oestrogen equation.
"It's like being dealt a bad hand in a poker game," he says. "And this risk is greatly affected by other non-genetic factors like a woman's reproductive history," he says.
Dr Liu says that while the results will require further validation, the sample is large and the outcomes were significant. They have also detected the same genetic variations in women with cancer of the uterus where oestrogen exposure is also considered key.
Should the results be confirmed by further studies, he says the work could be used to identify women who carry a combination of these genetic variants, and who may benefit from existing oestrogen-lowering drugs to reduce the cancer risk.
"We're moving closer and closer to personalised and tailored medicines," he says. "Ultimately, we may be able to tailor oestrogen exposure up and down to optimise health and minimise risk."
Nell Barrie, science communications officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "We know that oestrogen levels play an important role in the development of breast and womb cancers.
"This research brings us a step closer to understanding the many subtle genetic changes that interact to affect individual women's risk of these diseases. Studying these changes should help to identify women most at risk so they can be offered tailored advice, screening and treatments in the future."
Details of the research are being unveiled today at the British Society for Human Genetics Annual Conference, which is being held in Warwick.
At 03:50:51 in HeadlinesThe first bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines plane which crashed in Ukraine last week are to be flown to the Netherlands for identification.
At 02:39:03 in HeadlinesThe US Supreme Court has cleared the way for Arizona to execute a murderer who had sought information about the lethal drugs to be used to kill him.
At 02:31:33 in BusinessUS video game publisher Electronic Arts (EA) has reported a 51% jump in profit for the April-to-June quarter, boosted by strong sales of titles like Titanfall and FIFA 2014.
At 01:27:13 in HeadlinesWhy are more children having "graduation ceremonies" when they leave nurseries - and is there really any point?
At 01:16:48 in HeadlinesEthnic minority students are less likely than their white British peers to receive offers from UK universities, research suggests.
At 01:08:02 in EntertainmentPaedophile rock star Ian Watkins is due to learn whether he can appeal against the length of his jail term for child sex offences, including the attempted rape of a baby.
At 01:02:56 in EntertainmentChildren's author Julia Donaldson is a prolific writer and shows no signs of slowing down as a stage version of her book What the Ladybird Heard swings into the capital this week.
At 00:55:21 in PoliticsBritain is exporting millions of pounds worth of arms and other dual-use military equipment to Russia despite concerns Moscow is arming separatist rebels in Ukraine, MPs have warned.
At 00:55:06 in ScotlandThe Queen will formally open the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later in front of a 40,000 crowd at Celtic Park.
At 00:21:57 in EnglandAs well as breaking the flat grey monotony of the average pavement, street furniture offers somewhere to sit, somewhere to take shelter and, at times, something to prevent us from getting run over. On occasion, it also has a story to tell.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2010. Gene variations may have breast cancer role, team says [Online] (Updated 7th Sep 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/88031/Gene-variations-may-have-breast-cancer-role-team-says [Accessed 23rd Jul 2014]
News In Other Categories
As well as breaking the flat grey monotony of the average pavement, street furniture offers somewhere to sit, somewhere to take shelter and, at times, something to prevent us from getting run over. On occasion, it also has a story to tell.
Ever wondered how much your local hospital pays for incontinence pads, medical wipes or surgical gloves?
Britain is exporting millions of pounds worth of arms and other dual-use military equipment to Russia despite concerns Moscow is arming separatist rebels in Ukraine, MPs have warned.
Paedophile rock star Ian Watkins is due to learn whether he can appeal against the length of his jail term for child sex offences, including the attempted rape of a baby.
More "voids" have been found beneath an east Belfast road that was closed after a large hole was discovered under one of its traffic lanes.
US video game publisher Electronic Arts (EA) has reported a 51% jump in profit for the April-to-June quarter, boosted by strong sales of titles like Titanfall and FIFA 2014.