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Large study reveals increased cancer risks associated with family history of the disease
Date:7/24/2013

lifestyle habits such as smoking and alcohol intake, diet, personal medical history, including menstrual and reproductive factors, and use of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy.

Dr Eva Negri, head of the Laboratory of Epidemiologic Methods at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Milan, Italy, said: "Besides confirming and quantifying the well-known excess risks of people developing the same cancer as their first-degree relative, we have identified increased risks for developing a number of different cancers. We have also found that if a patient was diagnosed with certain cancers when they were younger than 60, the risks of a discordant cancer developing in family members were greater.

"A major strength of our study is that we were able to adjust our analyses for tobacco, alcohol and a number of other lifestyle habits, which most previous studies have not been able to do."

Dr Negri said that some of the associations between discordant cancers were probably due to shared environmental factors such as family habits of smoking and drinking. However, she said: "Our results point to several potential cancer syndromes that appear among close relatives and that indicate the presence of genetic factors influencing multiple cancer sites. These findings may help researchers and clinicians to focus on the identification of additional genetic causes of selected cancers and on optimizing screening and diagnosis, particularly in people with a family history of cancer at a young age."

She said that the large numbers of patients in the study enabled the researchers to identify associations even for some rare cancers.

"For some rare cancers, a weak association with a different, common cancer can, on a population level, reveal a higher attributable risk than a strong association with the risk of developing the same cancer. For example, for ovarian cancer we found that a family history of breast cancer ha
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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