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Other highlights in the Oct. 9 JNCI

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Allergies Are Associated with Lower Risk of Brain Cancer

People with a history of allergies and related diseases have nearly a third lower risk of developing a certain brain cancer than those without the condition.

Atopic diseases, which include asthma, eczema, hay fever, and other allergies, have been linked to a lower risk of glioma, a type of brain cancer that affects glial cells. This association has not been seen with meningioma, a tumor that develops in the membrane that covers the brain.

Eleni Linos of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and colleagues analyzed eight studies conducted between 1979 and 2007 that examined the association between a history of atopic diseases and a diagnosis of glioma or meningioma.

The researchers found that patients with a history of allergies had a 40 percent lower relative risk of glioma than those without allergies, and patients with a history of eczema or asthma had a 30 percent lower risk. They found no such association with meningioma.

While there is no evidence that the association is causal, "These results are consistent across many geographic settings, study designs, and different atopic diseases and may reflect a protective effect of the immunologic milieu associated with atopic allergy on tumor growth," the authors write.

Contact: Eleni Linos,, (617) 309-0499

Three Genetic Prostate Cancer Risk Factors Identified

Three separate locations on human chromosome 8q24 appear to be independently associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Evidence for genetic susceptibility to prostate cancer is quite strong. Several chromosome regions have been identified that may contain important prostate cancer-related genes.

S. Lilly Zheng, M.D., of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine examined 18 single-nucleotide polymorphisms on one such chromosome region. Three locations in that chromosome region were associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer among men of European American ancestry.

"Because the alleles associated with risk at these independent loci are common (i.e., at least one was present in more than one-third of the men in our study) and their effects are additive, our results indicate that 8q24 harbors factors that account for a substantial proportion of the genetic risk for this common disease," the authors write.

In an accompanying editorial, Sharon Savage, M.D., and Mark Greene, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., review other recently published genetic association studies involving this chromosome region and prostate cancer risk. They also discuss how more data sharing from genetic association studies has accelerated the pace of genomic research and discovery.

"The precedent set by the Human Genome Project and the advent of genome-wide association studies bring the need for innovative data-sharing policies to the forefront of the genetic association field," the editorialists write.


  • Article: Vanessa Wasta, senior media relations representative, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins,, (410) 955-1287

Also in October 9 JNCI:

  • Antitumor Activities of TEM8-Fc: An Engineered Antibody-like Molecule Targeting Tumor Endothelial Marker 8


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