Researchers say that nearly 26 percent of women with breast cancer have a mutation in the p53 gene, which repairs damage to the DNA.  And it’s most prevalent among premenopausal women with ER-/PR- breast cancer and in postmenopausal hormone-negative women with a high body mass index (BMI).  The latter group had higher-grade tumors and a poorer outcome.  High BMI is already considered a risk factor for breast cancer.

The study included 1,170 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1996 and 2001 and 2,116 women without cancer, and was designed to look at how lifestyle and environmental factors affect breast cancer.

 “The p53 gene is the guardian of the genome because it signals the cell to repair DNA damage when that occurs. If we can find genetic or environmental risk factors that lead to damage of p53 or stress on the gene, we may be able to help prevent development of breast cancer as well as other cancers,” says the study’s lead investigator, Catalin Marian, MD, PhD, a research instructor of cancer genetics and epidemiology at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC)

The research was presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.  Read more here

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