Gene variations linked to lung cancer susceptibility in Asian women

November 11, 2012
This is an X-ray image of the chest with growth on the left side of the lung. Credit: National Cancer Institute

An international group of scientists has identified three genetic regions that predispose Asian women who have never smoked to lung cancer. The finding provides further evidence that risk of lung cancer among never-smokers, especially Asian women, may be associated with certain unique inherited genetic characteristics that distinguishes it from lung cancer in smokers.

Lung cancer in never-smokers is the seventh leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, and the majority of lung cancers diagnosed historically among women in Eastern Asia have been in women who never smoked. The specific genetic variations found in this study had not been associated with lung cancer risk in other populations.

Although , such as (also known as environmental tobacco smoke) or exhaust from indoor cooking are likely account for some cases of lung cancer among Asian women who have never smoked, they explain only a small proportion of the disease. To gain a better understanding of lung cancer in Asian female never-smokers, researchers from the (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, partnered with researchers from several other countries to create the Female Lung Cancer Consortium in Asia to conduct one of the largest genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in female never-smokers to date. GWAS compares across the genome between people with a disease or trait to people without the disease or trait.

"This study is the first large-scale genome-wide association study of lung cancer among never-smoking females anywhere in the world," said Qing Lan, M.D., Ph.D., a senior investigator in NCI's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, and the leader of the study.

The consortium, whose findings were reported Nov.11, 2012, online in , conducted a GWAS that combined data from 14 studies that included a total of approximately 14,000 Asian women (6,600 with lung cancer and 7,500 without lung cancer). The studies included data on environmental factors, including exposure to secondhand smoke.

The consortium found that variations at three locations in the genome—two on chromosome 6 and one on chromosome 10—were associated with lung cancer in Asian female never-smokers. The discovery on chromosome 10 was particularly significant because it has not been found in any other GWAS of lung cancer in white or Asian populations.

"Our study provides strong evidence that common inherited genetic variants contribute to an increased risk of lung cancer among Asian women who have never smoked," said Nathaniel Rothman, M.D., a senior investigator in NCI's Division of and Genetics and coauthor of the study. "These variants may also increase lung cancer risk associated with environmental factors, such as environmental tobacco smoke."

The researchers did not detect an association with variations at a location on chromosome 15 that has been associated with lung cancer risk in many previous GWAS of in smokers. The absence of this association provides further support for the suggestion that the on chromosome 15 may be smoking-related.

The researchers found some evidence that Asian women with one of the newly identified genetic variants may be more susceptible to the effects of environmental tobacco smoke. However, the authors note that more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions from this observation.

"This study is an example of how genome-wide association susceptibility studies can evaluate inherited genetic risk in populations with unique characteristics or environmental exposures," said Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., acting co-director of NCI's Center for Cancer Genomics and a co-author of the study. "We will continue to develop better, smarter applications of this technique and apply them to populations where we have detailed information on environmental factors to further our understanding of how inherited genetic factors modify risk from environmental exposures."

Explore further: Latest research confirms genetic susceptibility to lung cancer

More information: Lan Q, et al. Genome-wide association analysis identifies new lung cancer susceptibility loci in never-smoking women in Asia. Nature Genetics. November 11, 2012. doi: 10.1038/ng.2456 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.2456

Related Stories

Latest research confirms genetic susceptibility to lung cancer

April 15, 2012
Previous research has shown that Asian patients with lung cancer are more likely to harbor epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations. Furthermore, Asian patients with lung cancer are more likely to be non-smokers ...

Lung tumors in never-smokers show greater genomic instability than those in smokers

July 5, 2011
Lung adenocarcinomas in people who have never smoked show greater genome instability than those in smokers, supporting the theory that lung cancer in never smokers arises through different pathways, according to research ...

Study finds increase in number of non-smokers being diagnosed with lung cancer

September 4, 2012
There has been an increase in the number of non-smokers being diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, according to new findings.

Early morning smokers have increased risk of lung and head and neck cancers

August 8, 2011
Two new studies have found that smokers who tend to take their first cigarette soon after they wake up in the morning may have a higher risk of developing lung and head and neck cancers than smokers who refrain from lighting ...

Recommended for you

CAR-T immunotherapy may help blood cancer patients who don't respond to standard treatments

October 20, 2017
Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is one of the first centers nationwide to offer a new immunotherapy that targets certain blood cancers. Newly approved ...

Researchers pinpoint causes for spike in breast cancer genetic testing

October 20, 2017
A sharp rise in the number of women seeking BRCA genetic testing to evaluate their risk of developing breast cancer was driven by multiple factors, including celebrity endorsement, according to researchers at the University ...

Study shows how nerves drive prostate cancer

October 19, 2017
In a study in today's issue of Science, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore Medicine, report that certain nerves sustain prostate cancer growth by triggering a switch that causes tumor vessels ...

Gene circuit switches on inside cancer cells, triggers immune attack

October 19, 2017
Researchers at MIT have developed a synthetic gene circuit that triggers the body's immune system to attack cancers when it detects signs of the disease.

One to 10 mutations are needed to drive cancer, scientists find

October 19, 2017
For the first time, scientists have provided unbiased estimates of the number of mutations needed for cancers to develop, in a study of more than 7,500 tumours across 29 cancer types. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger ...

Researchers target undruggable cancers

October 19, 2017
A new approach to targeting key cancer-linked proteins, thought to be 'undruggable," has been discovered through an alliance between industry and academia.

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.