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Scientists have pinpointed an area of the genome that can put smokers at even more risk of developing lung cancer.
The team, jointly led by Professor Richard Houlston at The Institute of Cancer Research, studied more than 300,000 ‘tags’ – parts of our DNA that act as a ‘roadmap’ to our genes – in lung cancer patients and healthy people.
They narrowed the search down to two genetic variants within the region of the genome called chromosome 15 which are more common among the lung cancer patients than the healthy people. Roughly half the population carries either one or two copies of each.
Current or former smokers who carry one copy of each genetic variant increase their risk of lung cancer by 28%. Current or former smokers with two copies of each variant increase their risk by 80%. People who carry these variants, but have never smoked, are not at increased risk of the disease.
Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK who funded the study, said: “This research tells us there are some smokers who are even more vulnerable to lung cancer because of their genetic profile.”
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