Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Scientists may be one step closer to understanding why prostate cancer is more common in African Americans

Ivanhoe Newswire:

Researchers at Harvard University in Boston have found a DNA segment on chromosome 8 that is a major risk factor for the disease, especially in blacks. It nearly doubles the chances of prostate cancer in younger black men and may explain why they are at an increased risk as they get older.

Because prostate cancer is about 1.6 times more common in African Americans than other populations the theory is there is a genetic risk factor for the disease that occurs more often in African than in other groups.

Researchers collected data on 1,597 African Americans with prostate cancer. In the part of their genetic sequence that can be traced solely to African ancestors, as opposed to European ancestors, the researchers found the cancer culprit. The risk factor is contained in an extremely small section of chromosome 8 with just nine genes.

"This is one of the first genetic risk factors found that is responsible for an appreciable fraction of sporadic prostate cancer cases, particularly for the African American population," says lead author Matthew Freedman, M.D., of Harvard Medical School. "Interestingly, we found that this region also confers risk for prostate cancer for diverse ethnic groups. The actual gene, however, remains to be identified."

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