British scientists of the University of Cambridge discovered fifteen novel single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are linked to the risk of developing breast cancer. That is written in an article, recently published in Nature Genetics. Currently, over ninety of these genetic variations, playing a role in breast cancer development, have been found in the literature.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women as well as the number one cause of death among Dutch women – one in nine are affected. Five percent of these women has a genetic predisposition that increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Consequently, it is crucial to conduct research on the role of SNPs underlying the development of breast cancer. However, these minute genetic variations can only be discovered in large populations.
The authors therefore decided to forge an alliance with dozens of other scientists across the world. This Breast Cancer Association Consortium compared the genetic make-up of more than 120,000 European women with or without breast cancer. Fifteen new SNPs were found that individually raise the risk by only a small amount. When a person has more SNPs, the risks can add up.
Although, breast cancer mortality rate has recently dropped due to research on the disease and methods of treatment, the authors believe there is still a long way to go. “The next bit of solving the puzzle involves research to understand more about how genetic variations work to increase a woman’s risk,” says Doug Easton, study author and professor of genetic epidemiology at the University of Cambridge. “We’re sure there are more of these variations still to be discovered.”
Sources: Eurekalert, Cancer Research UK.
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