Bernard Friedenson, Ph.D.
Inheritance of a BRCA1/2 defect predicts such high breast cancer risks that prevention has not been widely studied. Hereditary BRCA1/2 gene mutations can cause cancer by impairing protective responses to some carcinogens. Literature searches identified formaldehyde and acetaldehyde as contributors to mutation related carcinogenesis if detoxification pathways are overwhelmed. The work first determined whether the types of DNA damage as sociated with hereditary cancers resemble DNA damage caused by the two opportunistic carcinogens. Both carcinogens activate BRCA1/2 pathways; both carcinogens cause the same types of DNA damage found in BRCA1/2 related cancers; both carcinogens increase risks for leukemias theoretica lly and statistically associated with BRCA1/2 deficiencies. Rats given acetaldehyde have increas ed incidence of malignant mammary tumors, leukemias, lymphomas, and pancreatic tumors. In hu mans, breastfeeding transmits acetaldehyde to infants. At least seven studies link acetaldehyde to early onset breast cancer. Risks from these and other opportunistic carcinogens including radiation may be modified in BRCA mutation carriers. Compensating for the genetic deficit may prevent or delay some hereditary cancers.
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