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Hunt for Common Genes linked to Cancer Expected to be Unsuccessful

Research into the identification of common genes linked to cancer is expected to be unsuccessful. Statisticians with the US National Cancer Institute report that huge resources// are being invested in the hunt for common inherited genetic variants that would increase the susceptibility to cancer.

Researchers insist that there are a number of problems when doing such a large research.

The first of such problems is that common genes are unlikely to exist nor have much effect on the incidence of cancer.

"A second reason to play down the role of common susceptibility genes is studies suggesting that environmental, dietary or lifestyle changes have a large effect on the incidence of cancer. These studies show changes in incidence within one of two generations, which is probably too quick to be related to the introduction of new genes", statisticians, Stuart Baker and Jaakko Kaprio, explained.

The sudy of cancer in twins have revealed only a small to a moderate contribution of cancer in indentical and non-identical twins.

Even if cancer susceptible genes were identified showing their clinical benefits would be difficult according to the researchers.

“The search for common cancer susceptibility genes faces important methodological and practical challenges for cancer prevention, given the small chance that such genetic variants exist and the difficulty and expense of providing substantial clinical benefit if they do exist”, they said.

Researchers pointed out that the enthusiasm in this area of 'should not precipitate unwarranted expectations'


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