It is found that if a person has the defective ATM gene then the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer doubles. This would serve as a new way of identifying women who face an increased risk of cancer and thereby help treat and prevent the disease. The study results were published in the journal Nature Genetics. But the researchers feel that further work is needed before the full potential of the discovery was realized.
The research team headed by Nazneen Rahman, professor of cancer genetics studied 433 breast cancer patients who had a family history of the disease, but did not carry the known breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. They were then compared to 521 healthy women. The researchers said that they identified 12 women with mutations in the ATM gene among those who suffered from breast cancer. On the other hand the defective ATM gene was found in just 2 people in the healthy group. The researchers concluded that the gene was linked to breast cancer and carrying the faulty gene increased the risk of breast cancer by about two-folds.