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BRCA1 Mutation Prevalent Among Hispanic, Younger Black Women
Date:12/26/2007

New ethnic findings point out that all women with early breast cancer should be tested for the mutation, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The gene mutation BRCA1, which is known to increase the risk of breast cancer, is prevalent among Hispanics and young black women with breast cancer, researchers report.

The mutation is known to heighten the risk for Ashkenazi Jews, so the new ethnic findings are something of a surprise, the California researchers noted.

"We found that the Hispanic women had a higher prevalence of the harmful BRCA1 mutation than white women, and the highest prevalence was among young African-American women," said study author Esther John, a research scientist at the Northern California Cancer Center in Fremont and a consulting associate professor of health research and policy at Stanford University. "The prevalence of the BRCA1 mutation is different in different racial and ethnic groups."

In the study, which appears in the Dec. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, John's team looked for the prevalence of the BRCA1 mutation among 3,181 women with breast cancer.

The researchers found that Ashkenazi women with breast cancer had the highest rate of the BRCA1 mutation, at 8.3 percent. For Hispanic women with breast cancer, the rate was 3.5 percent. Among non-Hispanic whites, the rate was 2.2 percent, and among Asian women it was 0.5 percent.

For all black women, the rate of the mutation was 1.3 percent, but for those under 35 who had breast cancer, the rate was 16.7 percent, John's group found.

Among the surprises in the study was that Hispanic women were more likely to have a particular mutation that is also common in Ashkenazi Jews, John said. Spanish ancestry may account for this, John noted. The researchers speculate that Sephardic Jews, who settled in Spain, could have shared the mutation with Ashkenazi Jews, who s
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