Tuesday January 28, 2020

Genetic Variations Influence Risk of Developing Cancer: Study

Study found that variations in the regions that regulate the expression of oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes affect cancer risk

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Cancer
While minor genetic changes only have a small impact on Cancer risk, the variations analysed in this study are numerous and common in the population. Pixabay

Shedding new light on why some people develop cancer while others do not, a new study has found that a person’s risk of developing cancer is affected by Genetic variations in regions of DNA that do not code for proteins, previously dismissed as “junk DNA”.

This study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, shows that inherited cancer risk is not only affected by mutations in key cancer genes, but that variations in the DNA that controls the expression of these genes can also drive the disease.

The researchers believe that understanding how non-coding DNA affects the development of this disease could one day improve genetic screening for cancer risk.

And in the future, this could lead to new prevention strategies, or help doctors diagnose the disease earlier, when it is more likely to be treated successfully.

“What we found surprised us as it had never been reported before — our results show that small genetic variations work collectively to subtly shift the activity of genes that drive cancer,” said lead researcher of the study John Quackenbush, Professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the US.

Genetic
Shedding new light on why some people develop Cancer while others do not, a new study has found that a person’s risk of developing cancer is affected by genetic variations in regions of DNA that do not code for proteins, previously dismissed as “junk DNA”. Pixabay

“We hope that this approach could one day save lives by helping to identify people at risk of cancer, as well as other complex diseases,” Quackenbush said.

The researchers investigated 846 genetic changes within non-coding stretches of DNA, identified by previous studies as affecting cancer risk.

These Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) are particular positions in the human genome where a single letter of the genetic code varies between people.

Unlike mutations in coding DNA, such as BRCA, that are rare but significantly raise a person’s risk of developing cancer, non-coding SNPs are relatively common in the population but only slightly increase cancer risk.

The team analysed whether there was a correlation between the presence of a particular SNP and the expression of particular genes.

In total, they looked at over six million genetic variants across 13 different body tissues.

Genetic
The researchers believe that understanding how non-coding DNA affects the development of this disease could one day improve genetic screening for cancer risk. Pixabay

They found that variations in the regions that regulate the expression of oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes affect cancer risk.

The study also revealed that these cancer-risk SNPs tend to be specifically located in regions that regulate the immune system and tissue-specific processes — highlighting the importance of these cellular processes to the development of cancer.

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“While minor genetic changes only have a small impact on cancer risk, the variations analysed in this study are numerous and common in the population,” said Emily Farthing, senior research information manager at British charity Cancer Research UK. (IANS)

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Patients May Suffer Invasive Treatments for Harmless Cancers: Researchers

According to the researchers, It is the first time that the risk of overdiagnosis has been quantified across five cancers, anywhere in the world

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A breast cancer diagnosis is terrifying enough at any time. Pixabay

Researchers have revealed that Australians are increasingly being diagnosed with potentially harmless cancers, which if left undetected or untreated, may expose them to unnecessary surgeries and chemotherapy.

The research, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, drew on data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to compare how the lifetime risk of five cancers had changed between 1982 and 2012.

The study shows compared to 30 years ago, Australians are much more likely to experience a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.

“Cancer treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy, endocrine and chemotherapy carry risks of physical harms,” said the study authors from Bond University, University of Sydney and Griffith University in Australia.

“In the absence of overdiagnosis, these harms are generally considered acceptable. In the context of overdiagnosed cancers, however, affected individuals cannot benefit but can only be harmed by these treatments,” authors added.

The figures suggest that in 2012 24 per cent of cancers or carcinomas in men were overdiagnosed. These included 42 per cent of prostate cancers, 42 per cent of renal cancers, 73 per cent of thyroid cancers and 58 per cent of melanomas.

Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

For women, 18 per cent of cancers or carcinomas were overdiagnosed, including 22 per cent of breast cancers, 58 per cent of renal cancers, 73 per cent of thyroid cancers and 58 per cent of melanomas.

The figures are significant because of the harm that can occur from cancer treatment of patients who would never have had symptoms in their lifetime.

The authors also refer to separate studies showing overdiagnosis could be linked to psychological problems.

“For example, men’s risk of suicide appears to increase in the year after receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis,” researchers said.

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According to the researchers, It is the first time that the risk of overdiagnosis has been quantified across five cancers, anywhere in the world.”

The findings also suggest an important role for health services such as the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in detecting potential overdiagnosis and alerting health policy decision makers to the problem early on. (IANS)