Single hair can show cancer risk
Thursday 04 March 1999
Researchers found that the pubic hair of women either at risk of breast cancer, or suffering from the disease, had a distinctive "signature" when viewed with a device for measuring the diffraction patterns of X-rays.
The onset of breast cancer seems to result in the distortion of the protein molecules within hair shafts, a distortion that can be measured by the device, according to a team led by Veronica James of the University of New South Wales in Sydney. "These changes are seen in all samples of scalp and pubic hair taken from women diagnosed with breast cancer," the researchers report in the journal Nature. "Because our results are so consistent, we propose that such hair analysis may be used as a simple, non-invasive screening method for breast cancer."
Scalp hair that had been permed proved less reliable than pubic hair, probably because the treatment had damaged the shaft, mimicking the effect of having breast cancer. Hair from women who had inherited a genetic mutation which puts them at risk of breast cancer produced the same X- ray pattern as women with the disease. "We believe that this pattern arises from a variation in the structure of the cell membrane as the hair is formed in the follicle," the researchers say.
"It is possible that this may lead to a simple and reliable screening method for breast cancer using a single pubic hair," Dr James said.
Gordon McVie, director-general of the Cancer Research Campaign, said the device used by the Australian team, known as a synchrotron radiation source, is too sophisticated and rare to be used in cancer screening. There is only one in Britain. But, he added, the research shows there a possible biochemical basis for a simple test.
"What is intriguing about this research is why there should be a difference in hair. The next step is to find the biochemical basis for the difference," Professor McVie said.
Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
Croatia's second city to close 'worst zoo in the world' after reports of 'nightmare' conditions and 'depressed' animals
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Did jetliner fly into area controlled by Taliban? Net widens after claims final satellite signal could have been sent from the ground
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Ukip and Nigel Farage on course for remarkable victory in European elections
Tony Benn was entirely ineffectual - and usually wrong
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex
- 3 Malaysia flight MH370: Pitbull song lyrics bear uncanny resemblance to missing plane mystery, according to YouTubers
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Viral Facebook links are profiting hackers
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...