Researchers Find Possible Genetic Link to Prostate Cancer That Increases Black Men’s Risk
A cluster of microscopic genetic variations found to be more common in black men than white men has been associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer, researcher Matthew Freedman said last week at a Wistar Institute symposium on black men and prostate cancer, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Previous research has found that black men are 50% more likely to develop prostate cancer, to develop it at younger ages and they twice as likely to die from the disease as white men, according to the Inquirer. Freedman and colleagues at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scanned the DNA of 2,500 black men, including 1,600 with prostate cancer. Researchers found that those who inherited variant nucleotides from African rather than European ancestors had a higher prostate cancer risk. Freedman estimates that about one-third of prostate cancers that develop in whites and 68% in blacks may be related to these genetic variants. He added that the gene variants are "present in all of us, just in different frequencies." According to the Inquirer, it remains unclear which gene or genes carry the microscopic variations, as there "are three billion pairs of nucleotides in the genome, and the crucial variants are somewhere in a region of four million pairs." The goal of researchers is to identify the "risky gene" and "provide an avenue for better detection and treatment of prostate cancer," as well as preventive measures, according to the Inquirer (McCullough, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.