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Most Links Between Gene Variants and Cancer Weak

Most lack strong epidemiological credibility

TUESDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- A comprehensive analysis of reported associations between variants of DNA repair genes and cancer has shown that most do not have strong epidemiological credibility, researchers report in the Jan. 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Paolo Vineis, M.D., from Imperial College in London, United Kingdom, and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of 241 reported associations (with a total of 1,087 datasets) between individual variants of DNA repair genes and different human cancer types that had been tested in at least two independent studies. The data are maintained and updated in an online database at http://www.episat.org, the authors note.

The researchers found 31 significant associations for 16 genes using lenient statistical criteria, of which four were associated with several types of cancer. Using the Venice criteria that considers epidemiological strength based on evidence, replication and protection from bias, three associations were classified as having strong credibility, four had modest credibility and 24 had weak credibility, the report indicates. Only two genes associated with lung cancer remained strong after applying more stringent statistical criteria, the authors add.

"We have meta-analyzed 241 associations between variants in DNA repair genes and cancer and have found sparse association signals with strong epidemiological credibility," Vineis and colleagues conclude.

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