A molecular change that switches genes on or off could provide a warning of possible breast cancer onset decades before the disease develops, British researchers say. The scientists hope the discovery will lead to a simple blood test that can determine vulnerability to the disease.
The blood test would check for a higher-than-average incidence of methylation, which causes cell volatility, exacerbated by environmental factors such as smoking, alcohol, or radiation. Those with higher methylation are more likely to develop breast cancer.
Dr. James Flanagan is a lead researcher at Imperial College London:
“The hope is that we’ll end up with a molecular profile of somebody’s individual risk of disease, so they can then use that information to take preventative measures, or make lifestyle changes if needed.”
By combining this new data with other information, like family history of the disease, more women could benefit from pre-emptive action.