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Indigenous American genes may increase risk of aggressive breast cancer

The greater the proportion of ancestry from Indigenous America a Hispanic woman has, the greater the likelihood that she will be diagnosed with HER-2 positive breast cancer, a more aggressive type of the disease. Indigenous Americans are the pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.

This ancestry could help account for Latina women’s greater risk of mortality from breast cancer compared with non-Hispanic white women, since Latina women tend to be diagnosed with more aggressive breast cancer, according to researcher Laura Fejerman of the University of California San Francisco.

Peru is one of the Latin American countries with the highest proportion of indigenous descent. Fejerman and her colleagues evaluated 1,842 Peruvian women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and found that HER2-positive breast cancers accounted for 30 percent of the cases. This suggests that genes of Indigenous American origin could be contributing to the higher incidence of Her2-positive breast cancer in Latinas.

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