Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have shown that chances of getting cancer depends on an individual's country, by finding that genes linked to the deadly disease do not affect all races the same way.
The research team discovered a genetic variation that raises the risk of a type of bowel cancer in some countries but not others.
Scientists at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the university identified three new genetic markers, which are the specific differences in the DNA code that makes up every living organism.
They found that two of the markers were the same in both Japanese and Caucasian populations from the UK, Germany, Spain, Israel and Canada.
But one marker for colon cancer was only in Caucasian samples, who were 10 per cent more likely to develop that type of bowel cancer.
The researchers said that their study has the long-term aim of finding genetic markers that can identify people who face an increased risk of bowel cancer.
"The lifetime risk is one in 20 that you will get bowel cancer. This is the first time that a race-specific effect has been found for a genetic marker," the Scotsman quoted lead author, Professor Malcolm Dunlop, as saying.
"It's an important step forward in our knowledge of the causes of bowel cancer, bringing us ever closer to a genetic test for those at high risk of the disease," he added.
The study is published in the journal Nature Genetics.