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Is Breast Cancer Genetic?

by Peter on June 4, 2011

Since my wife and I are having our first child in a few weeks I thought this would be a pertinent subject. As the father and Dad I obviously think that we are going to have a boy and as a result the chance is going to be very very small. If there is a history of breast cancer then as you know prevention and planning ahead can solve a lot of problems. Remember:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, caused by abnormal genes passed from parent to child.

Genes are particles in cells, contained in chromosomes, and made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA contains the instructions for building proteins. And proteins control the structure and function of all the cells that make up your body.

Think of your genes as an instruction manual for cell growth and function. Abnormalities in the DNA are like typographical errors. They may provide the wrong set of instructions, leading to faulty cell growth or function. In any one person, if there is an error in a gene, that same mistake will appear in all the cells that contain the same gene. This is like having an instruction manual in which all the copies have the same typographical error.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes

Most inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with two abnormal genes: BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene one) and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene two).

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