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Home News and Update Year 2010 Breast Cancer: Study blames It On Poor Lifestyle

Breast Cancer: Study blames It On Poor Lifestyle

Times of India
09 October 2010
By Prithvijit Mitra
Kolkata, India

Is a poor lifestyle making Bengali women more susceptible to breast cancer? A DNA analysis of blood samples conducted at the Anthropological Survey of India (ASI) reveals that gene mutations in Bengali women were markedly different from that of their counterparts from other communities. But it suggested that while breast cancer was generally triggered by alterations in two gene coding areas, it was not so for women in Bengal. Rather, poor lifestyle could be a bigger reason, the study has pointed out.

Breast Cancer: Study blames It On Poor Lifestyle
An analysis of thirty–five samples reveals that BRCA 1and BRCA 2 – the genes that reflect breast cancer – have mutated differently. Even though community–specific studies are rare for breast cancer, the mutation patterns have so far been taken to be similar. "The mutations in our samples suggest that they were not enough to trigger the disease.

These women were mostly overweight and have been taking medicines or post–menopausal therapy that seemed to be a bigger reason for their breast cancer. There is reason to suspect that the disease is a fallout of a poor lifestyle in this part of the country than genetic factors," said Abhishikta Ghosh Ray, a junior research fellow at ASI who led the study. The analysis, that will continue for the next two years, is still at a preliminary stage.

In 5%–10% of the cases, breast cancer is caused by genetic factors. It is the most common form of cancer among women in urban India, including Kolkata. Around 9%–11% of all cancer patients in the state suffer from breast cancer.

Around 30% of the patients covered in the study had a family history of breast cancer. "This is why we had expected their BRCA genes to show a predictable mutation pattern but they didn’t. Instead, a majority of these women were found to have been taking hormonal pills or undergoing post–menopausal therapy. Most were overweight with high fat deposits in their mid–waist region.

Lifestyle variables seemed to be a more plausible trigger for these women," explained Ghosh Ray. Oncologists said the analysis confirms what has long been suspected. "Lifestyle and genetic factors are the two reasons behind breast cancer. Now, for those who don’t have a family history, a regular lifestyle should rule out the possibility of the disease.

Rarely do we get such a patient. But there are hundreds of patients with an irregular lifestyle who have a family history. The study will be an important one if it manages to specifically rule out the genetic factor for local women," said Gautam Mukhopadhyay, senior oncologist.

Meanwhile, the DNA analysis will continue at ASI. It has been decided to study 100 samples of breast cancer affected women and match them against 100 non–affected samples to trace the gene mutations more clearly. Cancer affected tissues will then be analyzed to study gene expression that will help to define the trigger beyond doubt.

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