Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Postmenopausal women keeping abreast of tipsy genes!

First it was diet coke, now it seems that alcohol could possibly increase the chances of breast cancer in women. This was determined by Dr Peter Shields, professor of medicine and oncology based at Georgetown University's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington DC, and Dr Jo Freudenheim, chair of social and preventive medicine at the State University of New York in Buffalo. It was found that two genes that code for enzymes that breakdown alcohol, ADH1B and ADH1C, are possibly linked to increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who favour a drink or two. Lead author of the study, Dr Catalin Marian stated the obvious, saying: "The higher their alcohol consumption, the higher their risk."(Medical news today, 2008).
The study showed that the variations in the DNA sequences of the two genes caused significant increases in the susceptibility towards breast cancer. In the case of the ADH1B gene, women possessing the gene variant who consumed alcohol were twice as susceptible to breast cancer compared to the women who abstained from drinking alcohol. Alternatively, the ADH1C gene actually provides some protection against breast cancer; but as alcohol consumption increases, the effectiveness of this protection decreases, thus causing a contrasting, but nevertheless significant increase in the risk of breast cancer.
“The results showed that increased breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women was linked to variations in DNA sequences in two genes: ADH1B (sequence rs1042026) and ADH1C (sequence rs1614972).Among postmenopausal women with the ADH1B (sequence rs1042026) gene variant, the risk of breast cancer for the alcohol drinkers was nearly double that of the abstainers.Among women with the ADH1C (sequence rs1614972) gene variant, there was a protective effect against breast cancer risk that varied inversely with the amount of alcohol: the more alcohol a woman with this gene variant consumed, the less protection offered, and the higher the risk of breast cancer. (Conversely, this could be viewed as the protection conferred by the gene appeared to get stronger as alcohol consumption dropped).” (Medical news today, 2008).
In light of this obviously depressing news, there maybe some cause for celebration, in that the aforementioned Dr Catalin Marian implied that more research was needed to validate the findings and show that the genes are more than just ‘linked’ to the risk of breast cancer, and have yet to be proven to be a potential cause of breast cancer. "We have to keep in mind that the gene sequence variations we observed are not located directly in coding regions, but they may be associated and inherited together with other variations that have this effect on the enzyme function." Says Marian

Nathan Crouch (41453627)

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