A genetic link exists between the risk of womb cancer in women and prostate cancer in men, British scientists claimed.
A University of Cambridge study into whether certain genetic variants influence the development of womb cancer, or protect women from it, said Sunday that they found a genetic region that reduces the risk of developing the disease.
In men, a gene within the same region, called HNF1B, was previously linked to a lower prostate cancer risk.
Women with the protective version of the gene are on average 15 to 18 percent less likely to develop womb cancer, while men with the same version are 21 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer. However, in men, the gene was also linked to a 10 to 14 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
"This study is the first to highlight a potential link between womb cancer in women and prostate cancer in men, providing new insight into the underlying genes and mechanisms that lead to the development of both diseases," said Professor Douglas Easton, who led the research.
He added that understanding how genetic variants influence a person's risk of developing cancer is a crucial step in being able to identify high-risk groups who could benefit from closer monitoring or measures to reduce their risk of developing the disease.
In the study, published online in the journal Nature Genetics, researchers scanned the genomes of 1,265 womb cancer patients and compared them to the genomes of 5,190 women who did not have the disease. This allowed them to pinpoint a 47 different "letters" of the DNA code, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), where genes linked to womb cancer were most likely to be found.
They then narrowed down their search by looking specifically at these regions in a further 3,957 patients with womb cancer and 6,886 without the disease.
This left just three SNPs that were shown to be significantly linked to a decreased risk of womb cancer, all of which overlapped with the gene HNF1B.