Link between obesity gene, breast cancer uncovered

People who have a variant of the FTO gene have up to 30% chance of developing breast cancer.

Updated: May 24, 2011, 15:26 PM IST

London: A new research aimed to better identify the genetic factors that lead to breast cancer has uncovered a link between the fat mass and obesity associated gene (FTO) and a higher incidence of breast cancer.

According to the study conducted at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, people who possess a variant of the FTO gene have up to a 30 percent greater chance of developing breast cancer.

Research to identify why the link exists is ongoing, but experts said the finding takes us one step closer to personalized medicine based on genetic risk which would allow for better monitoring and prevention of illness, as well as targeted treatment.

“This is a fascinating early finding, which fits with the known connections between obesity and breast cancer,” said Virginia Kaklamani, oncologist at Northwestern Memorial, co-director of the Cancer Genetics Program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and lead author of the study.

The study has been published in BMC Medical Genetics.