The link between poverty and specific gene mutation that researchers at Dundee University have established may help explain why women from poor backgrounds are less likely to fight breast cancer.
In the British Journal of Cancer, the boffins reported finding that a woman's postcode could be connected to the "health" of the P53 gene in her tumour cells, reports The BBC.
AdvertisementThe p53 gene is a "tumour suppressor", and tells cells with cancerous or pre-cancerous changes to self-destruct before they can thrive.
However, when it mutates, that ability is reduced or removed, making the appearance of cancer far more likely.
To reach the conclusion, researchers looked at frozen tumour tissue samples from a total of 246 women who underwent cancer treatment between 1997 and 2001.
Tests were carried out to determine the level of mutation in the p53 gene, and these were cross-referenced against the postcode where the woman lived, offering a rough snapshot of her background.
Women from deprived postcodes were more likely to have a p53 mutation, and were less likely to have survived cancer-free.
Dr Lee Baker, who led the study, said: "This research makes a strong link between p53 and deprivation, and then between p53 mutation and recurrence and death.
"As a social issue, it shows that if we lift people up the deprivation scale they will be less likely to have problems with their p53 gene, and go on to develop breast cancer."