Breast Cancer Study Helps Researchers Better Understand the Disease

Henrietta Brewer
October 24, 2017

The study appears in the Journal of American Society of Human Genetics.

U.S. co-author Professor Peter Kraft, from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said the findings revealed a wealth of new information about the genetic mechanisms underlying the disease.

University of Toronto researchers have helped identify 72 new genetic variants that contribute to the risk of developing breast cancer as part of a major global collaboration involving hundreds of researchers worldwide.

The researcher also used the data to calculate a polygenic risk score for each patient and combined this score with data on their high and moderate-risk variants to estimate each patient's overall risk of developing breast cancer.


Did you know that more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer than any other cancer in the UK?

A researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine has received almost half a million dollars to research how specific diets are related to breast cancer.

"That probably fits with the fact that shift work is a small risk factor for breast cancer".

Professor John Bridgewater, an oncologist at University College London Hospital, who was not involved in the study, said: 'Many patients will often go on special diets, rather than having conventional treatment. If their theory is proven, it may explain why the majority of breast cancers have no genetic ties. But because they are common and their effects multiply together, the combined effect is considerable.


Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, affecting more than 1.5 million women each year and causing the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among them, according to the World Health Organization.

Professor Chevenix-Trench said the known genetic risk factors would remain invisible until tests were available.

Cancer survivor Josie Dietrich, 43, said had she known about her genetic make-up, she could have prevented a lengthy and severe battle with an aggressive case of breast cancer.

"Many women are offered mammogram screenings when they are middle-aged, but if we know a woman has genetic markers that place her at higher risk of breast cancer, we can recommend more intensive screening at a younger age".


'These gene changes now have the potential to be incorporated into existing models to more accurately predict an individual's risk, and to improve both prevention and early detection of the disease.

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