Mystery of the missing breast cancer genes
Researchers from the University of Adelaide are hoping to better understand why the mutated genes for breast and ovarian cancer are not passed on more frequently from one generation of women to the next.
That's despite a documented link between breast cancer genes and increased fertility in women.
Dr Jack da Silva from the University's School of Molecular & Biomedical Science says that because women who carry breast cancer genes are more fertile, in theory they have a greater chance of passing these genes on to future generations.
"A recent study in the United States found that mutations in the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 were directly linked with a 50% increase in the fertility of women, which is a huge number," Dr da Silva says.
"With such an increased fertility rate, you would expect to see a high frequency of these cancer-causing genes in modern populations, but in fact that is not the case - the frequencies are relatively low."
In a paper being published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, he argues that the so-called "grandmother effect" may in part be the reason behind this phenomenon.
"In an earlier study, researchers found that post-menopausal women create a 'grandmother effect' - that is, the longer they live, the more they are able to support their daughters and their grandchildren, thereby creating an environment in which more grandchildren are born.
"The reverse of this is that women who die earlier - such as from breast or ovarian cancer, which are usually post-menopausal - will no longer be able to support their daughters and grandchildren. This has the effect of limiting the number of grandchildren born, and therefore the chances of passing on the mutated genes from one generation to the next is also limited," Dr da Silva says.
However, the "grandmother effect" does not entirely negate the increased fertility caused by breast cancer genes, he says.
"Our change to today's industrial and technological age has been relatively rapid in human history. For most of our existence, we have been hunter-gatherers. During this time, female fertility was limited, and this may have reduced the increase in fertility caused by mutations of these genes."
Dr da Silva says further studies examining modern-day hunter-gatherer societies might shed more light on how and why the spread of these genetic mutations occurs across generations.
Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Provided by University of Adelaide
- Research suggests link between infertility, low egg reserve, and breast/ovarian cancer gene (BRCA1) Dec 18, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- BRCA2 mutations associated with improved survival for ovarian cancer Apr 04, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Breast cancer risk amplified by additional genes in combo with BRCA mutation Apr 16, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Ashkenazi ovarian cancer patients with BRCA mutations live longer than those with normal gene Jan 02, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Breast cancer patients lack adequate fertility preservation advice Nov 07, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have led the largest sequencing study of human disease to date, investigating the genetic basis of six autoimmune diseases.
Genetics 13 hours ago | 4.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
University of Minnesota Medical School researchers from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, in partnership with the University's Brain Tumor Program, have developed a new mouse model of malignant peripheral ...
Genetics May 20, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Northwestern University scientists have shown a gene involved in neurodegenerative disease also plays a critical role in the proper function of the circadian clock.
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 3 / 5 (1) | 1 |
Informed consent is the backbone of patient care. Genetic testing has long required patient consent and patients have had a "right not to know" the results. However, as 21st century medicine now begins to use the tools of ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 3 |
Ethicists provide framework supporting new recommendations on reporting incidental findings in gene sequencing
In a paper published in Science Express, a group of experts led by bioethicists in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine provide a framework for the new American College of Medical Geneti ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Existing research shows that bicyclists who wear helmets have an 88 percent lower risk of brain injury, but researchers at Boston Children's Hospital found that simply having bicycle helmet laws in place showed a 20 percent ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Swiss scientists reveal the mechanism responsible for aging hidden deep within mitochondria—and dramatically slow it down in worms by administering antibiotics to the young.
13 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (7) | 0 |
Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion—the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.
10 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 2 |
(HealthDay)—Migraines and depression can each cause a great deal of suffering, but new research indicates the combination of the two may be linked to something else entirely—a smaller brain.
10 hours ago | 4 / 5 (2) | 0 |
A new approach for immunizing against influenza elicited a more potent immune response and broader protection than the currently licensed seasonal influenza vaccines when tested in mice and ferrets. The vaccine ...
11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
In a series of lab experiments designed to unravel the workings of a key enzyme widely considered a possible trigger of rheumatoid arthritis, researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that in the most severe ...
12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |