DNA Key to Predicting Prostate and Renal Cancer

In a study to be published in the February issue of "The Journal of Urology," researchers from Emory University School of Medicine have determined that inheritance of "mitochondrial haplogroup U" is associated with increased risk of prostate and renal cancers.

John Petros, MD, associate professor of Urology at Emory, led the study with colleagues from Emory and the Mercer University School of Medicine. Statistics from the study show that 20 million people in the United States fall into the haplogroup U category and are therefore at an increased risk for prostate or renal cancer.

Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from the mother to her children, males and females. In this study, Dr. Petros and his colleagues researched the inheritance pattern of mitochondria in patients with cancer.

"The study found that inheritance of mitochondrial haplogroup U is associated with an approximately 2-fold increased risk of prostate cancer and 2.5-fold increased risk of renal cancer in white North American individuals," says Dr. Petros, "Mitochondrial haplogroup U is found in 9.35 percent of the white United States population, which means more than 20 million individuals are in this high risk group."

By comparing the mtDNA haplotype in patients with prostate and renal cancer to that in control groups, Petros has been able to determine an association between mitochondrial genotype and cancer risk.
A haplotype is a set of closely linked alleles, which are genes or variations in the sequence of genetic information on a segment of DNA. "Haplo" comes from the Greek word for "single."

Mitochondrial haplogroups have been associated with other diseases. For example, the H haplogroup has been linked to late onset Alzheimer's disease and the J haplogroup is connected to Liber's hereditary optic neuropathy.

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