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Genetic variations raise lung cancer risk for smokers and ex-smokers
Date:4/2/2008

HOUSTON - Two common inherited genetic variations are associated with increased risk of lung cancer for smokers and former smokers, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reports April 2 in the online edition of Nature Genetics.

"This is the first study to identify a common genetic variant that influences the risk for developing lung cancer," said lead author Chris Amos, Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Epidemiology. The variants are present in about half of the Caucasian population studied.

The paper is one of three published by Nature this week from three unique teams that have identified the same genetic locus as associated with increased lung cancer risk. The findings are a major step forward in identifying those at high risk for non-small cell lung cancer and for understanding how smoking and genetic factors interact to cause the disease.

"The major risk factor for developing lung cancer is cigarette smoking," Amos said. "What we do not understand is why some long-term smokers develop lung cancer and others don't. There are so many different cancer-causing compounds in tobacco smoke that it's hard to separate them and we don't fully understand the mechanisms that cause lung cancer."

While all smokers and former smokers are at higher risk for lung cancer, less than 20 percent of these "ever smokers" eventually develop the disease. "We need to get a better handle on how genetic factors increase risk and what molecular pathways are involved in development of lung cancer," Amos said.

The research team, comprising scientists from M. D. Anderson, Johns Hopkins University, and the Institute for Cancer Research and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, pinpointed two spots of genetic variation on chromosome 15.

The two variants are single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, pronounced "snips"), places in the human genome that va
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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