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article imageAge is the main determinant of breast cancer

By Tim Sandle     Feb 5, 2014 in Science
According to a recent study, age is a key risk factor for breast cancer. The study has looked at the connection between cancer and the aging process and has found that DNA alterations contribute to age-related increases in breast cancer risk.
As people age, changes take place to their DNA. A research team has found that age-related changes are present in normal breast tissues of women. However, they were also present and more prominently altered in breast tumors. This means that DNA changes are taking place in a woman’s body as she ages; however, there is also a ‘trigger’ that causes cancer in some people but not in others.
The reason why the science team are studying changes to DNA rests on the science of epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene function such as gene expression or gene expression potential, such as heritable changes passed during cell division, that occur without changes in DNA sequence. The change to the DNA is termed "methylation." DNA methylation stably alters the expression of genes in cells as cells divide and differentiate from embryonic stem cells into specific tissues.
Although the aging process has been an implication, scientists still do not know which DNA alterations occur early in carcinogenesis. This is an area of further study.
The research was undertaken by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC). The findings have been published in the journal Epigenetics, in a paper titled “Age-related DNA methylation in normal breast tissue and its relationship with invasive breast tumor methylation.”
More about Age, Cancer, Breast Cancer, Epigenetics
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