Researchers assert that a routine test can be developed to will allow doctors to suggest lifestyle changes that could stop breast cancer developing.
This test would be developed from the discovery that methylation, the process by which methyl builds up in the DNA, is essential for the healthy development of cells. However, the levels of the chemical can be affect by external factors such as alcohol, which can be controlled.
The ability to prevent cancer is a holy grail for researchers. Breast cancer can be discovered in 80% of cases by mammograms, unfortunately at that time of diagnosis, the tumor has already grown.
Earlier this year, scientists at the University of Copenhagen developed a test that could predict who would get breast cancer about 2 – 5 years before an actual diagnosis. Therefore, a nine year warning would be a tremendous improvement.
Changes to DNA triggered by external causes are modifiable, which means that unlike genetic risk, there is a possibility that there are ways to modify the epigenetic risk. A modification of epigenetic risk would mean that fewer people develop cancer in the first place.
Researchers believe that this study represents a really important key piece in the bigger picture of breast cancer risk and prevention.
More research is necessary in order to understand why this loss of methylation might increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. The findings could additionally provide crucial insight into how breast cancer develops and how to prevent it.
If doctors are able to predict who might get breast cancer, the can intervene to reduce their risk of developing the disease.