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The study suggests that poorer women are "significantly more likely" to suffer recurrence of breast cancer as their lifestyles could significantly mutate a tumor-suppressing gene called p53.
Research conducted at University of Dundee, Scotland and commissioned by Breast Cancer Research and Tayside Tissue Bank revealed that, women with poor socio-economic conditions were ‘significantly more likely’ to die for not being able to get the disease detected in time, than those from well-off sections of society.
Lead researcher, Dr. Lee Baker, department of surgery and molecular oncology, Dundee University said, “This research makes a strong link between p53 and deprivation, and then between p53 mutation and recurrence and death.”
“As a social issue, it shows that if we lift people up the deprivation scale they will be less likely to have problems with their p53 gene, and go on to develop breast cancer,” added Baker.
246 women studied
The researchers examined frozen tumor tissue samples of 246 women undergoing cancer treatment between 1997 and 2001.
Samples aided the researchers to scan p53 gene mutation in the subjects.
These results were then examined with the postal code of the subjects, to determine their lifestyle, to arrive at a conclusion.
It was revealed that women belonging to the lower strata of society had a higher tendency to have p53 mutation, and lesser chances to survive breast cancer.
However, Baker concluded, “Deprivation alone doesn’t cause breast cancer, but can affect prognosis when p53 is damaged as a result of lifestyle choices commonly associated with deprivation.”
Link between deprivation and breast cancer survival
According to scientists, there is an inherent link between poverty, and cancer-survival. Socio-economic background and ecological factors play their part in diagnosis and survival rate of breast cancer patients.
“Smoking, drinking and poor diet are more common in women from lower socio-economic groups, who are also more likely to experience a recurrence and to die from breast cancer,” said Baker.
Lifestyle impinges greatly on p53 gene, and an unhealthy living might as well hamper the body’s immunity against cancer cells, the researchers concluded.
Dr. Caitlin Palframan, Breakthrough Breast Cancer said, “Early detection of breast cancer is vital to increase the chance of successful treatment.”
“That is why we encourage all women to be breast aware and attend screening when invited,” added Palframan.
Details of the study appear in British Journal of Cancer.