SYDNEY, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- A global medical collaboration involving Australian researchers has discovered 72 genetic variants that put women at higher risk of breast cancer.
Researchers from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane co-led the study, which collected and analyzed data from 275,000 women worldwide, the institute said in a media release on Tuesday. The findings have also been published in the Nature and Nature Genetics scientific journals.
"This work helps us to understand why some women are more at risk of developing breast cancer than others and what genetic markers we should be looking for in order to assess that risk," the institute quoted Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench, the coordinator of its genetics and computational biology department, as saying.
"We know that breast cancer is caused by complex interactions between these genetic variants and our environment, but these newly discovered markers bring the number of known variants associated with breast cancer to around 180."
"Our hope is that in future we will be able to test for these genetic variants in order to inform preventative approaches and treatment for women who may be at a higher risk of breast cancer."
Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, affecting more than 1.5 million women each year and causing the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among them, according to the World Health Organization.
The disease claimed more than 2,800 lives in Australia in 2014 alone, according to the Cancer Council Australia health organization.