Mayo Clinic researchers have found that carrying a common genetic disorder doubles the risk of developing lung cancer in smokers and nonsmokers.
Researchers found that the genetic disorder, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (α1ATD), could explain up to about 12 percent of lung cancer patients in this study and likely represents the same widespread risk in the general population.
A normal α1AT gene produces a protein that stops enzymes from breaking down elastin, which keeps lung tissue elastic for normal function. Carriers of? 1ATD commonly develop emphysema and/or chronic obstructiveaCarriers of pulmonary disease (COPD). Prior to this study, the connection between α1ATD, COPD and lung cancer risk had not been established.
All α1ATD gene carriers were at a similarly greater risk of developing lung cancer, regardless of smoking status. Those who had never smoked were at a 2.2-fold higher risk; light smokers had a twofold greater risk; and moderate to heavy smokers had a 2.3-fold increased risk.
Although the study helps explain why people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer, it doesn’t mean that people who don’t have the gene won’t develop lung cancer. “Smoking remains the overwhelming risk factor for lung cancer development.”
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