Breast cancer runs in families; however, genetic predisposition (such as being BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers) explains only a portion of this observation. Epigenetic changes (modifications in the genome that alter gene expression but do not affect the DNA sequence per se) have been shown to also play a role in breast cancer risk.
Researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York have now examined whether a specific epigenetic modification (more specifically, methylation of the DNA) can be associated to breast cancer family history in unaffected women from high-risk breast cancer families. This important work suggests that the levels of DNA methylation in white blood cells from cancer-free women could be one of the factors playing a role in the clustering of breast cancer in families with extensive cancer histories within its members.
For the full Open Access report by Delgado-Cruzata et al. in the February 2014 issue of Epigenetics, visit the following link: https://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/epigenetics/article/26880/
Epigenetics is a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that publishes original research and review articles covering the latest findings about epigenetic mechanisms and their role in diverse biological processes. Established in 1997, Landes Bioscience is an Austin, Texas-based publisher of biology research journals and books. For more information on Landes Bioscience, please visit http://www.landesbioscience.com/.
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