Chromosome 13: BRCA2 gene for breast cancer susceptibility, Matt Ridley
Interviewee: Matt Ridley.
BRCA2, on chromosome 13, is one of the genes associated with hereditary breast cancer. Although gender, age and environmental effects are major risk factors for breast cancer, having a mutation in either the BRCA2 gene or BRCA1 gene (on chromosome 17) increases the risk.
(DNAi Location: Genome > Tour > Genome spots > Chromosome 13: breast cancer >
A Chromosome 13 story)
On chromosome 13, there's a gene called BRCA2. Mutations in this gene can increase someone's susceptibility to breast cancer. But most cancer isn't genetic in that sense – it's not inherited. Most cancer is caused by events in our lives, in the environment. And yet in another sense, cancer is a purely genetic disease; it's a disease caused by genes doing things they shouldn't: normal genes, but genes that shouldn't be switched on to cause the growth, division, and proliferation of cells in the body. There's a whole series of genetic fail-safes to make sure this doesn't happen in a healthy body, but sometimes a whole series of mutations can knock out the fail-safes and the result is a cancer tumor.
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