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Gene variations responsible for breast cancer may increase heart risk

Category: Breast

Many women who have received positive blood tests for breast cancer may also be at risk for developing heart complications, according to a new study published in the journals Nature Communications and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The majority of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have a mutated form of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Under normal scenarios these genes function to suppress tumor growth in the breast and ovaries.

However, the function of these genes may not be limited to tumor suppression. The St. Michael's Hospital researchers who conducted the present study found that they also play a role in regulating cardiovascular function. The investigation showed that mice with the BRCA1 mutation were three to five times more likely to experience heart failure. The BRCA2 mutation increased the risk twofold.

"Our findings suggest that individuals who are at risk of breast cancer may also be at a previously unrecognized risk of heart disease," said Dr. Subodh Verma, who led the investigation.

She added that the finding could improve the diagnosis of cardiovascular risk and eventually lead to the development of new medications that reduce the dangers associated with the gene mutations. These variations may be detected through standard blood testing.

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