JUN 23, 2020 1:40 PM PDT

Why are certain people more vulnerable to carcinogens?

A study from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center entitled, "Tumour predisposition and cancer syndromes as models to study gene-environment interactions," highlights why certain people are more vulnerable to carcinogens and developing cancer. The study was published recently in Nature Reviews Cancer.

Lead author Michele Carbone and co-author Haining Yang were amongst the researchers who wanted to grasp a better understanding of how the interaction between an individual’s genetic predisposition to cancers and exposure to environmental carcinogens results in cancer development. The idea behind this is that certain gene mutations make some individuals much more susceptible to carcinogens. 

"By identifying those who carry genetic mutations, we can implement more effective prevention and early detection strategies targeting those who are most vulnerable, and thus, we have a much greater impact in saving lives from cancer," said Carbone.

The scientists go on to write, “Tumour predisposition syndromes in which cancers arise at an accelerated rate and in different organs — the equivalent of a sensitized background — provide a unique opportunity to examine how gene-environment interactions influence cancer risk when the initiating genetic defect responsible for malignancy is known.”

Photo: Pixabay

This study was collaborated on by some of the top scientists in the world and takes a deeper dive into molecular gene-environment interactions in cancer than ever before. Yang comments on the significance of the study, saying:

"This important 'Perspective' article highlights some of the most cutting-edge studies on how genes and environmental factors interact in causing cancer, which is a critical research topic that needs people's attention.”

The authors conclude by voicing their collective hope: “Understanding the molecular processes that are altered by specific germline mutations, environmental exposures and related mechanisms that promote cancer will allow the design of novel and effective preventive and therapeutic strategies.”

Sources: Nature Reviews Cancer, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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