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Family History of Breast Cancer May Not Increase Risk


A new study suggests that women whose families carry the BRCA mutation, which is linked to breast cancer, may not have an increased risk of developing breast cancer if they're not carriers of the gene themselves. This new study, published in the Oct. 31 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, contradicts a 2007 study which suggested that women whose families carried the BRCA mutation were more than five times more likely to develop breast cancer themselves even if they weren't carriers.

The Oct. 31 study followed more than 3,000 families and found that nearly 300 included a woman who had a BRCA mutation. The researchers compared breast cancer risk among first-degree relatives of breast cancer patients who did and did not include the BRCA mutation and found no significant difference in risk.

What does this mean? It means that women who don't carry the BRCA gene can breathe a little easier.

"Women who test negative for the BRCA gene do not require excessive intervention just because the BRCA gene runs in the family," study author Dr. Allison Kurian told the Wall Street Journal.

It's important to note that these results are not generalized to women who did inherit the BRCA mutation from their families. Women who do inherit the gene from their families may have from five to 20 times the risk of developing breast cancer than those who don't, Kurian said.


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