Landmark study offers new information about breast cancer genes

Bronxville, NY, October 22, 2003 A landmark study of Ashkenazi Jewish women with inherited mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, called The New York Breast Cancer Study, will be published by Science Magazine on October 24, and reveals some surprising findings that will contribute significantly to the scientific knowledge in the field of breast cancer management. The study was the first to incorporate pre- and post-test genetic counseling, offered through the Sarah Lawrence College graduate program in Human Genetics, for enrolled subjects.

The study, which was based on one of the largest population samples ever collected in this area of research, provides the truest estimation to date of the lifetime risks of developing breast and ovarian cancer caused by mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. Important scientific findings include:

  • New statistics about incidences of ovarian cancer among women with the gene mutation: Women who carry the BRCA1 gene have a 54% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Groundbreaking information about the negative impact of obesity and lack of exercise among teenagers on breast cancer development as adult women: Exercise and appropriate weight during adolescence delayed the onset of breast cancer in women who carry the mutation.
  • Findings that relate the date of birth of the subjects to the risk of breast cancer: Women in this study who carried the breast cancer gene born before 1940 developed breast cancer later in life than those born after 1940.

Conducted by Dr. Mary-Claire King of the Departments of Medicine and Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle and Joan H. Marks, MS and Jessica B. Mandell, MS, CGC, of the Graduate Program in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, the study engaged over 1000 women of Ashkenazi Jewish background in the New York Metropolitan area.

More than 100 students in the Sarah Lawrence program served as res

Contact: Judith Schwartzstein
Sarah Lawrence College

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