Northwestern study shows breast cancer, obesity genetic link
Jun 7, 2011
A new study from Northwestern University is providing links between obesity and breast cancer, through the use of genetics. Scientists have found that a variation of the gene called FTO - fat mass and obesity associated gene - could cause the likelihood of breast cancer to increase by up to 30 percent compared to if the gene variant was not present.
The scientists are hoping that screening in the future, for the FTO gene, could become as prevalent as testing is today for the BRCA gene, which is well-known for its links with breast cancer.
"Ten years ago we didn't know about the BRCA gene mutation which has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer. Today, we offer genetic testing and a specialized clinic for those at risk in order to minimize their risk and detect any indication of cancer early," said Dr. Virginia Kaklamani, an oncologist at Northwestern Memorial, who is also the co-director of the Cancer Genetics Program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University.
All women over the age of 40 should have yearly mammograms, according to the American Cancer Society. Younger women should perform self breast exams to look for lumps in their own bodies, and they should also have regular clinical exams performed by a doctor. Breast cancer is more prevalent in older women but that doesn't mean that younger women are not susceptible. Even men can get the disease, but the rate is much lower than that for women.