Seven genetic risk factors tagged as predictors of prostate cancer risk

Apr 04, 2007

Seven genetic risk factors (DNA sequences) that determine prostate cancer risk have been identified by researchers from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Seven genetic risk factors (DNA sequences) that determine prostate cancer risk have been identified by researchers from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

The sequences are grouped in one area of the human genome on chromosome 8 and strongly suggest men’s likelihood of progression to prostate cancer, according to study findings, which were published this week in the online edition of Nature Genetics. The sequences are located outside the coding regions of genes, suggesting novel molecular mechanisms in DNA that may alter risk of disease.

“The study has identified combinations of genetic variants that predict more than a five-fold range of risk for prostate cancer,” said senior author David Reich, DPhil, of Harvard. “Both high- and low-risk combinations of variants are common in human populations.”

Researchers note that understanding these genetic risk factors may help explain the higher risk for prostate cancer among African-Americans, and it may also highlight in general why certain men develop prostate cancer.

Each of the seven genetic variants independently predicts cancer risk, according to the researchers; however, the predictive strength of the cancer varies according to the variant.

“Clinical testing of these genetic variants may help us identify men who should be prioritized for early prostate cancer screening and prevention efforts,” Dr. Reich said.