Breast cancer gene now linked to lung cancer among smokers

 

A gene linked to breast cancer has now been found to increase the chances of someone developing lung cancer, especially if they smoke, a study has found.

Mutations in the BRCA-2 gene are known to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers but for the first time scientists have shown that defects in the same gene significantly raise the probability of developing lung cancer.

If smokers carry BRCA-2 mutations then their lung cancer risk increases from 15 per cent – the risk that smokers already face – to 25 per cent over the course of their lifetime, the medical researchers found.

BRCA-2 is one of two “tumour-suppressor genes” that are strongly linked with breast and ovarian cancers when they are mutated. However, until now the gene has not been associated with lung cancer.

The study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, compared the DNA of 11,348 Europeans with lung cancer with 15,861 people who were free of the disease. The scientists found a BRCA-2 defect known as c.9976T increased the risk of developing lung cancer by about 1.8 times – on top of the risks from smoking.

This means that about a quarter of smokers who carry the BRCA-2 defect will develop lung cancer at some point in their lives.

“Smokers in general have nearly a 15 per cent chance of developing lung cancer, far higher than in non-smokers,” said Professor Richard Houlston of the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

“Our results show that some smokers with BRCA-2 mutations are at an enormous risk of lung cancer – somewhere in the region of 25 per cent over their lifetime,” Professor Houlston said.

A family of drugs known as the PARP inhibitors have shown some success in treating people with BRCA mutations who have developed breast or ovarian cancers. It is not known yet whether the same drugs are likely to work on lung cancer patients with similar mutations, the researchers said.

Lung cancer kills more than a million people worldwide each year and it is by the far the biggest cancer killer Britain, Professor Houlston said.

“We know that the single biggest thing we can do to reduce death rates is to persuade people not to smoke, and our new findings make plain that this is even more critical in people with an underlying genetic risk,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electrician - Full Time Employed

£29000 - £37500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and increased ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Permanent Class Teachers Required for 2015/2016 - Suffolk

£21000 - £50000 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teachers seeking perma...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 5 Teacher Required For 2015/16 - Chelmsford

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: A popular, 'Good' school loc...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teachers Required in Norwich and Great Yarmouth

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am working on behalf of a ...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food