Third gene linked to higher breast cancer risk

Scientists have found a third gene mutation linked to high rates of breast cancer. The CHEK2 mutation, though, is not as important as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in indicating breast cancer risk. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen and Herlev University Hospital in Denmark, however, say women may benefit from screening for the mutation, which was found in 1 percent of white, Northern European women. The study only included Danish women, leaving questions about its prevalence in black and Hispanic women unanswered. One percent of American women carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, giving them up to an 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer. The mutations have also been linked to higher risk of prostrate and colorectal cancers.

In the study, 0.5 percent of the 9,231 Danish women in the study had the mutation and 12 percent of them developed breast cancer, compared to 5 percent of the women who did not carry the mutation. Women with the mutation who were over 60, overweight, and taking hormone replacement therapy had a 24 percent chance of developing breast cancer in 10 years. The research is appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

To learn more about the pending paper:
- take a look at this story in Forbes magazine