Once again researchers found out that family history of breast cancer not only doubles the probability of breast cancer, it increases the chance of developing other type of cancers. Since the news of Angelina Jolie hit the headlines regarding her mastectomy, the world became a bit more cautious about cancerous genes. Her mother and aunt are sufferers of breast and ovarian cancer. So, family genes must be responsible for breast cancer. A family history of breast cancer, even if the members are distant relatives, doubles the chances of Gen Y to be affected. There is a massive chance of developing other noxious cancers such as stomach, bowel, ovarian, kidney, prostate and so on.
A study of 23,000 people in Italy and Switzerland found that for each of 13 cancers, close relatives had an increased risk of the same disease. The result is compared with 11,000 people without cancer.
Study leader Dr Eva Negri, of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy, told BBC News: “If you have a relative with one type of cancer your risk of the same type of cancer is increased”.
But there was also evidence that a family history of one cancer could significantly raise the risk for others. And the detrimental diseases such as esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, and sex gland cancers are more likely.
Cancer charities say risk depends on genes, lifestyle and environment. In some cases, the links between different cancers may be due to shared environmental factors, such as family smoking and drinking habits. But all the results trigger more from family, be it family history or family habits. Genes play an important role here.
The researchers collected information on family history of cancer, particularly in a first-level relative (those who share about 50% of their genes – namely a parent, sibling or child). Family is truly responsible in such cases.
They found people with a first-level relative with cancer of the larynx had tripled the normal risk of developing oral and pharyngeal cancer. Those closely related to someone with oral and pharyngeal cancer had a fourfold increased risk of esophageal cancer, while breast cancer doubled the risk of ovarian cancer for female family members.
The disease among female members is apparent, but men are not away from being victimized by cancerous genes. Men had a 3.4-percent increased risk of prostate cancer if a first-level relative had bladder cancer. Now, the patients suffering from prostate and bladder problems have a greater chance of passing on the disease. People with family history and unhealty lifestyle suffer equally. It is closely associated with women suffering from breast cancer. In both cases men and women can’t deny family threads. In this nuclear world even if we go away from family, family genes don’t leave us!!
Jessica Harris, Cancer Research UK’s senior health information manager, said cancer risk is determined by a combination of genes we inherit from our parents, our lifestyles, and our environment.
“Whether or not someone in your family has had cancer, living a healthy life can really help to stack the odds in our favour, and reduce the risk of cancer,” she said.
“The main things you can do are to be a non-smoker, cut down on alcohol, and stay in shape by being active and eating a balanced diet.” And lately, it’s hard to abide by these rules. Today, people are concerned about other things than health. Health has become a conscious act.
Eluned Hughes, from the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said some breast cancers do run in the family, however it was vital that women are aware that most cases were not hereditary.
“In order to fully understand the causes of breast cancer, we need to study more women over a longer period of time,” she said. As there are studies, there are variations too; so, there is a lot more to explore about breast cancer.
So, blame it on family genes. Family history is responsible for breast cancer, everybody knows it. Still we should pray for the best, while preparing for the worst. We should use alcohol in moderation and not smoke. It may seem “old wine in new bottle” but genes can produce other types of cancer. So, we must be responsible for our bodies, keep in touch with doctors and have healthy diet.
Written by: Jayeeta Shamsul