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Mayo-led study finds smoking related to subset of colorectal cancers
Date:4/13/2008

SAN DIEGO Smoking puts older women at significant risk for loss of DNA repair proteins that are critical for defending against development of some colorectal cancers, according to research from a team led by Mayo Clinic scientists.

In a study being presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the researchers found that women who smoked were at increased risk for developing colorectal tumors that lacked some or all of four proteins, known as DNA mismatch repair (MMR) proteins. These proteins keep cells lining the colon and rectum healthy because they recognize and repair genetic damage as well as mistakes that occur during cell division.

Researchers believe that, in this study population, few if any of the four proteins were absent because of an inherited genetic alteration. We think that smoking induces a condition within intestinal cells that does not allow MMR genes to express their associated proteins, and this loss leads to formation of tumors in some women, says the studys lead author, Mayo gastroenterologist Paul Limburg, M.D.

The researchers also discovered a direct association between the number of cigarettes smoked daily by study participants and increased risk of developing these specific tumors. They say many previous studies have found only a very weak positive association between use of cigarettes and development of the cancer.

Our findings suggest that tumors may form because cells cant repair themselves from damage induced by smoking, Dr. Limburg says. Tobacco toxins appear to block the DNA repair genes from producing their beneficial proteins.

We are beginning to realize that there might be different risk factors for different subsets of colon and rectal cancers. Smoking is emerging as a potentially important, modifiable risk factor among postmenopausal women, he says.

The findings also could have other clinical implications with respect to chemo
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Contact: Russell Vanderboom
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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