A Genetic Clue to Lung Cancer

Those with reduced DNA repair activity had higher risk of disease

TUESDAY, Sept. 2, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- People with reduced DNA repair activity seem to have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than those with average DNA repair activity.

So says an Israeli study, whose results suggest that some people may have a genetic predisposition to lung cancer, something that may explain why only a fraction of smokers develop lung cancer. Their findings are published in the Sept. 3 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The researchers measured the activity of DNA repair enzyme OGG in blood samples of 68 people with non-small cell lung cancer and another 68 healthy individuals. They found that OGG activity was much lower in lung cancer patients than in the healthy people.

After adjusting for age and smoking status, the researchers determined that the people in the bottom third of OGG activity had 4.8 times greater risk of lung cancer than people in the top third of OGG activity.

Nonsmokers with low OGG activity had seven times the risk of lung cancer than nonsmokers with normal OGG activity. But smokers with low OGG activity had more than 100 times greater risk of lung cancer than smokers with normal OGG activity, the study found.

The authors suggest that a substantial fraction of lung cancer cases might result from a combination of reduced OGG activity and smoking.

"If so, then screening for smokers with low OGG activity, followed by smoking cessation in these individuals, may lead to a decrease in the incidence of lung cancer," the authors write.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about lung cancer.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, Sept. 2, 2003
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