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Obese women are known to be at a greater risk of receiving a positive breast cancer test, but the reasons for this association were not clear. Now, a new study from researchers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital shows that a common gene variation may be at the heart of the connection.
After reviewing the medical records and genetic testing results of more than 700 women, the team found that those with a variation of the FTO gene, which is commonly associated with increased weight gain, were up to 30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer.
Every woman carries the FTO gene, but the findings showed that only about 18 percent of study participants had the variation that is associated with an increased cancer risk. The researchers said that this could provide valuable information that may make identifying those who are at the greatest risk of developing breast cancer even easier.
"This is a fascinating early finding, which fits with the known connections between obesity and breast cancer," said Dr Virginia Kaklamani, who led the study. "This knowledge helps us better identify who is at an increased risk so one day, we can counter that risk through preventative measures and advanced screening."
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