Evaluating the risk people have of getting cancer based on their genetic attributes has given rise to the idea of someone who is protected from getting cancer based on their genes. Most studies focus on what gene variants give people a higher risk of cancer, and finding people with a lower risk is a challenge, because if they are healthy, they won’t come in for testing.
In an ongoing search for the cure, scientists are examining cancer from new viewpoints. One is that people, who have a predisposition to the disease but do not develop it, may possess genetic traits that offer them some form of protection.
Most studies focus on what gene variants give people a higher risk of cancer, and finding people with a lower risk is a challenge, because if they are healthy, they won’t come in for testing.
One way around this limitation is to identify the protective gene variants by comparing the genetic sequences of people who have cancer and people who don’t but have similar ages and risk factors.
In 2004, researchers from the University of Sheffield studying gene variation in relationship to breast cancer and programmed cell death found that women subjects who inherited a gene variant called D302H in the CASP8 gene had a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
Subsequent studies have found that this variant also lowers the risk of prostate and other cancers.
Another study linked one of the variants in part of the telomerase enzyme to longer chromosome caps and a decreased risk of some kinds of breast cancer.