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Cancer link to poverty

16th February 2010

Researchers at Dundee University have discovered a genetic reason why poorer women have less chance of surviving breast cancer.

cancercell

The British Journal of Cancer reported that coming from a poor background could spark a 'key gene mutation' that affected the probability of beating the disease.

The team looked at tumour samples from 246 women who were given cancer treatment from 1997-2001.

They saw that a woman's postcode could influence how healthy the p53 gene was in her tumour cells.

The p53 gene usually acts to suppress the growth of tumour cells by informing cancerous cells to destroy themselves.

If gene mutation occurs, then this function slows or stops, meaning cancer is more probable.

The researchers found that when a woman's postcode was cross-referenced with how far the p53 gene had mutated, it showed that she was more likely to have the mutation and to have not survived free of cancer.

Dr Lee Baker, who led the study, said: "This research makes a strong link between p53 and deprivation, and then between p53 mutation and recurrence and death."

"As a social issue, it shows that if we lift people up the deprivation scale they will be less likely to have problems with their p53 gene, and go on to develop breast cancer."

 

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