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Study Identifies Multiple Genetic Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

A study led by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) and Harvard Medical School has identified// seven genetic risk factors—DNA sequences carried by some people but not others—that predict risk for prostate cancer. According to the study's findings, these risk factors are clustered in a single region of the human genome on chromosome 8 and powerfully predict a man's probability of developing prostate cancer. The paper will be published in the online edition of Nature Genetics on April 1.

"The study has identified combinations of genetic variants that predict more than a fivefold range of risk for prostate cancer," says senior author David Reich, assistant professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and associate member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. "Both high- and low-risk combinations of variants are common in human populations."

"The identification of these genetic variants is an important step in helping us understand the higher risk for prostate cancer in African Americans compared with other U.S. populations and, more importantly, why some men develop prostate cancer and others do not," says lead author Christopher Haiman, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

While the HMS/USC team identified seven genetic variants on chromosome 8, two other studies published in the same issue of Nature Genetics highlight the importance of this region in prostate cancer and each provides independent support for the findings presented by the HMS/USC team. One of the studies is from deCODE Genetics in Iceland while the other is led by Dr. Gilles Thomas and Dr. Stephen Chanock at the National Cancer Institute. Together, the three studies provide robust evidence of the role genetic variants play in prostate cancer.

According to the HMS/USC study, the seven genetic variants each independently predict risk for prostate cancer, wit
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