An analysis of the genealogical and medical records of males in Utah's multi-generational families strongly supports the case that inherited variations in the Y chromosome, the male sex chromosome, play a role in the development of prostate cancer, according to a study presented on Friday, October 25, at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) 2013 meeting in Boston. The study identified multiple, distinct Y chromosomes associated with a significant excess risk of prostate cancer, said Lisa Cannon-Albright, Ph.D., Professor and Chief of the Division of Genetic Epidemiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Cannon-Albright, who headed the study and presented the results, said that her lab plans to search these Y chromosomes for the genetic mutations that can predispose a man to develop prostate cancer, the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in the U.S. Because most of the Y chromosome does not recombine during cell division, it is passed virtually unchanged from father to son. “As a result, each male resident of Utah shares the Y chromosome of his father and his father’s father and so on,” she said. “This provided the ability to estimate the risk for prostate cancer in independent Y chromosomes represented in Utah.” The study relied upon the Utah Population Data Base (UPDB), which identifies over 6.5 million individuals, including many of the Utah pioneers in the 1800s. The pioneer genealogies in the UPDB are typically large, spanning 15 generations. The Utah population represented in the UPDB is genetically representative of Northern Europe. The database was created in the 1970s to define familial clustering and identify evidence for heritable contribution to cancer.
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