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FAMILY TREE IS LINK IN CANCER.

Byline: LORRAINE FISHER

DISTANT relatives of cancer victims have a higher than average chance of suffering the disease themselves, researchers say.

Scientists looked at the family tree of about 32,000 patients over the past 50 years and found inheritance played a part in 16 out of 27 cancers.

In some cases the increased risk extends out to third or even fifth-degree family members.

Relatives of people with stomach, colon, rectal or womb-lining cancer were more likely to develop any one of these diseases.

However, even cancers with the strongest family links, like breast cancer, were not more than twice as likely in first-degree relatives.

Stomach, lung and colon cancers were also seen more frequently in the partners of patients, suggesting lifestyle was a factor.

Kari Stefansson, who led the study in Iceland, said: "Our findings indicate that genetic factors contribute to the risk of specific cancers.

"The next step in this work is to isolate the key genes contributing to the common forms of the disease and to use this information to develop better medicine."
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 28, 2004
Words:176
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