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Two breast cancer studies show new hope for disease's victims

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 29, 2015 in Science
Canadian and Polish researchers released a joint study in which they've found another gene that carries a link to hereditary breast cancer. A second new study has found having breastfed can help to stave off breast cancer later in life.
Breast cancer gene mutation found
Hereditary breast cancer is passed down from a parent and causes about 10 percent of breast cancers. As Medical News Today writes, only about "half of the gene mutations associated with breast cancer development" have been discovered, those including mutations in the ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, CHEK2 and TP53 genes.
Science seeks to find the other hal,f so discovering a new breast cancer-causing gene mutation is a great development, and that is what the Polish and Canadian research team has done.
The results of this study shows that mutations of the gene RECQL can now join that list of gene mutations that can lead to breast cancer. The researchers took data on 25,000 genes in 195 Polish and Canadian women who had a strong cancer link in their family history. They also looked at data of 20,000 women who did not have a history of breast cancer in their family as a population control group.
Importance of breast screening
Of the 195 women, they found a group of Polish women and group of French Canadian women in which the two groups were very genetically homogenous. From there they were able to determine that the RECQL gene was at work in both groups.
"Recurrent RECQL mutations within both the Polish and French-Canadian populations were identified in this study," ScienceDaily writes. "Within the Polish group, one type of RECQL mutation showed a five-fold increased risk for developing breast cancer compared to individuals without a mutation.
"Meanwhile, within the French-Canadian population, another type of RECQL mutation occurred 50 times more frequently among familial breast cancer patients, compared to population controls."
While the RECQL gene mutation is rare, they found it has a high percentage of leading to breast cancer in a woman who has it, leading to cancer 50 percent of the time. Dr. Mohammad Akbari of the Women's College Hospital in Toronto was a lead researcher in the study and he said that in addition to making breast screening all the more important, the results will be another advancement in treatment options.
"In the future, we might be able to select or develop treatments that can work around or correct relevant genetic mutations that are linked to breast cancer," Dr. Akbari said. "This opens the door for new and better ways of approaching treatment."
Breast feeding and cancer
There is another newly-released study on breast cancer, this one from researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Institute in Oakland and published April 28 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Researchers, lead by Dr. Marilyn Kwan, found that women who breastfeed and go on to develop breast cancer have a lower risk of dying or having the cancer return than women who never breastfed. She noted prior research linked breastfeeding with a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
"We found in this study of over 1,600 women with breast cancer that those who previously breast-fed had a 30 percent overall decreased risk of their breast cancer recurring," she said.
"We also found those who previously breast-fed had a 28 percent reduced risk of dying from their breast cancer. We think this is one of the first (studies) to examine the role of breast-feeding and breast cancer outcomes, prognosis and survival," she added.
"Overall, our study confirms that breast-feeding is not only good for the baby, but has potential health benefits for the mom."
More about Breast Cancer, breast cancer studies, breast cancer research
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