Researchers discover link between obesity gene and breast cancer

May 23, 2011

New research aimed to better identify the genetic factors that lead to breast cancer has uncovered a link between the fat mass and obesity associated gene (FTO) and a higher incidence of breast cancer. According to the study conducted at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, people who possess a variant of the FTO gene have up to a 30 percent greater chance of developing breast cancer. Research to identify why the link exists is ongoing, but experts say the finding takes us one step closer to personalized medicine based on genetic risk which would allow for better monitoring and prevention of illness, as well as targeted treatment.

"This is a fascinating early finding, which fits with the known connections between obesity and ," said Virginia Kaklamani, MD, oncologist at Northwestern Memorial, co-director of the Cancer Genetics Program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and lead author of the study.

Each individual carries the , but only 18 percent have this variant of the gene. Kaklamani, who specializes in cancer genetics, says testing for the FTO variant is not available currently, but it may be available in the future, similar to how genetic testing for the BRCA exists today.

"Ten years ago we didn't know about the BRCA gene mutation which has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer. Today, we offer genetic testing and a specialized clinic for those at risk in order to minimize their risk and detect any indication of cancer early," said Kaklamani, who is also an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "This knowledge helps us better identify who is at an increased risk so one day, we can counter that risk through preventative measures and advanced screening."

The research, published in BMC is part of an ongoing group of studies to further knowledge of for breast cancer.

More information: For more information about the study, visit www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2350/12/52

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers release first draft of a genome-wide cancer 'dependency map'

July 27, 2017
In one of the largest efforts to build a comprehensive catalog of genetic vulnerabilities in cancer, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified more than 760 genes ...

Cancer-death button gets jammed by gut bacterium

July 27, 2017
Researchers at Michigan Medicine and in China showed that a type of bacterium is associated with the recurrence of colorectal cancer and poor outcomes. They found that Fusobacterium nucleatum in the gut can stop chemotherapy ...

Long-sought mechanism of metastasis is discovered in pancreatic cancer

July 27, 2017
Cells, just like people, have memories. They retain molecular markers that at the beginning of their existence helped guide their development. Cells that become cancerous may be making use of these early memories to power ...

Blocking the back-door that cancer cells use to escape death by radiotherapy

July 27, 2017
A natural healing mechanism of the body may be reducing the efficiency of radiotherapy in breast cancer patients, according to a new study.

Manmade peptides reduce breast cancer's spread

July 27, 2017
Manmade peptides that directly disrupt the inner workings of a gene known to support cancer's spread significantly reduce metastasis in a mouse model of breast cancer, scientists say.

Glowing tumor technology helps surgeons remove hidden cancer cells

July 27, 2017
Surgeons were able to identify and remove a greater number of cancerous nodules from lung cancer patients when combining intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) - through the use of a contrast agent that makes tumor cells ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.