Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Smoking Slow Gene Tied to Cancer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Smoking Slow Gene Tied to Cancer

Article excerpt

The answer to whether smoking increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer may lie in her genes.

Researchers announced Tuesday that they've discovered a genetic variability that determines whether cigarette smoking increases susceptibility to breast cancer.

In a study involving more than 600 women, researchers looked at those born with a slow-acting gene for an enzyme known to detoxify cancer-causing compounds in cigarette smoke. They found that women with the gene, who smoked more than a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years, had seven times the risk of developing breast cancer than women born with a gene that operates more quickly. "These findings on breast cancer require substantial replication, but the potential implications may be important," said Christine Ambrosone, who conducted the study at the University of Buffalo. She says the new study may indicate why previous efforts failed to show a consistent association between cigarette smoking and breast cancer, when the association is clear in many other organs. Smoking hasn't been considered a significant risk factor for breast cancer, and studies that address the effect of smoking on this disease have come to conflicting conclusions, said Dr. Joanne Mortimer, director of Clinical Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine. She said these new findings, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest that smoking is a possible risk factor for breast cancer in women with this genetic makeup. Tied To Bladder Cancer Earlier studies showed that smokers with the slow-acting gene had higher levels of tobacco's carcinogenic compounds in their bloodstream; they were also at higher risk of developing bladder cancer, a disease associated with cigarette smoking. The new study reports a fourfold increase in risk for women with the slow-acting gene who smoked more than a pack a day. …

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