Breast cancer gene linked to Orkney islands

by | Mar 16, 2023 | Science

A gene variant which is known to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer has been identified in people with Orkney heritage.A new study suggests one in 100 people with grandparents from Orkney has a specific mutation of the BRCA1 gene.It found that most of them could trace their family ancestry back to the island of Westray.It is believed to be the first time a geographic ancestral link of this kind has been made within the UK.The researchers also discovered the specific Orkney gene variant in smaller numbers in genetic testing across the UK and even in the US.Previous research has found that women from certain ethnic backgrounds, such as Ashkenazi Jews, also have a high rate of a specific BRCA gene variant.Across the UK about 1 in 1,000 people have a BRCA1 mutation, which can leaves women at a higher risk of ovarian and breast cancer. mapThe BRCA genes are present in every person, both men and women, but when a fault occurs in one of them it can result in DNA damage and lead to cells becoming cancerous.People with a genetic variant have a 50% chance of passing it on to their children.Awareness of the faulty gene was raised a decade ago when Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy after discovering she had a BRCA1 variant.The operation was said to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer from 87% to 5%.However the NHS …

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