It’s sadly going to be a very long time, if ever, until people stop looking into cancer and the way it appears. Until we find a cure, or a prevention method, scientists are going to keep working on it, hoping to eventually find what they need. In one of the first cancer studies published this year, researchers determined that cancer risk is very similar for twins.
- The study focused on 80,000 identical twins and 123,000 fraternal twins
- The researchers chose subjects from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden
- The data was collected between 1943 and 2010
- At least 3,000 pairs of twins developed cancer for both individuals
- The research help the authors determine the familial, environmental and genetic risk of a large number of cancers
In a joint effort, researchers from the T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Harvard University, from the University of Helsinki, and from the University of Southern Denmark came together in order to perform the test on a large number of Nordic twins.
As it turns out, cancer risk is highly increased for a twin if the other one develops any form of it. The chances go up for both similar types of cancer, and completely different ones; and this also applies for rare cancer types, like ovarian and stomach cancers.
More specifically, the increased risk was of 14% for identical twins, and 5% for fraternal twins; this was available for 20 of the 23 types of cancer studied by the authors.
The results also showed that there is in fact a familial risk of cancer, as in two thirds of the cases where both twins developed the illness, they developed different types.
Next, the researchers attempted to figure out to what degree chances for developing cancer were increased due to genetics, environment, and family predisposition.
The highest heritability risks were presented by melanoma, with a 58% increased chance, and for prostate cancer, with 57%. The highest environmental risks were seen in lung, testicular, and breast cancers.
The study is so important because it took into account something that no other studies have taken before – rare types of cancer; additionally, since they also looked at fraternal twins, they did very good work in revealing some data about a shared familial risk.
The biggest limitation of the study, despite its very large subject base, is the fact that most Nordic people share similar types of lifestyles, especially in the case of twins, so the researchers don’t know if their results stand up for other cultures, populations, and especially ethnicities.
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