Obesity Gene Can Increase Risk of Developing Breast Cancer By 30 Percent

There appears to be a strong link between an obesity-related gene and breast cancer, according to a new study.Northwestern Memorial Hospital researchers have found that people who carry a variant of a gene related to obesity (FTO) have up to a 30 percent greater chance of developing breast cancer than those who have other versions of the FTO gene.

“This is a fascinating early finding, which fits with the known connections between obesity and breast cancer,” said Virginia Kaklamani, MD, oncologist at Northwestern Memorial, co-director of the Cancer Genetics Program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and lead author of the study, in the press release.

Every person carries the FTO gene, but only 18 percent have the particular variant associated with breast cancer, according to researchers.

Testing for the variant is not currently available but researchers hope it will be in the future in order to better identify people who are at an increased risk of cancer or detect cancer early.

The study was published in BMC Medical Genetics and is part of an ongoing group of studies to further knowledge of genetic risk factors for breast cancer.