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Genetic variation cuts bladder cancer risk, protects chromosome tips
Date:4/2/2011

ORLANDO - A common genetic variation links to both bladder cancer risk and to the length of protective caps found on the ends of chromosomes, scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reported today at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting.

These endings or tips, called telomeres, guard against chromosomal damage and genomic instability that can lead to cancer and other diseases.

"We found a single point of variation in the genome strongly associated with a 19 percent decrease in bladder cancer risk. The same variant also is linked to longer telomeres, which accounts for part of the overall reduction in risk," said first author Jian Gu, Ph.D., assistant professor in MD Anderson's Department of Epidemiology.

Telomere length diminishes with age, Gu said, and short telomeres are associated with age-related diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Previous studies separately tied telomere length either to cancer risk or to genetic variation. The paper by Gu and colleagues is the first to make both connections.

"Understanding the complex genetic regulation of telomere length and its relation to the causes of bladder and other types of cancer will help develop therapies or lifestyle changes to reduce cancer risk," said senior author Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of MD Anderson's Department of Epidemiology.

Wu and colleagues in 2003 were the first to show that short telomeres increase the risk of bladder, lung, kidney and head and neck cancers in a human epidemiological study.

Start with 300,000 SNPs

The new findings were presented by Gu at the AACR annual meeting and simultaneously published in Cancer Prevention Research, an AACR journal.

AACR President Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D., the Morris Herzstein professor of biology and physiology at the University of California San Francisco, won the Nobe
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-516-4855
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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