25 February 2016

A new factor for cancer prediction

Epigenetic age is a new measure used to assess a person's biological age. According to data obtained by researchers at Northwestern University working under the guidance of Dr. Lifang Hou, if a person's biological (epigenetic) age exceeds his chronological age, this increases the risk of developing cancer and subsequent death from it. At the same time, the greater the difference between the two indicators of age, the higher the risk of death from cancer.

According to Hou, healthy people are characterized by a very small difference between epigenetic/biological and chronological age. The data obtained by the authors demonstrate a clear trend, according to which this difference is very large in cancer patients, and it is even greater in people who have died of cancer.

The epigenetic age of a person is calculated using an algorithm that measures the level of methylation of 71 markers of blood DNA, which can be modified under the influence of the environment, including the chemical compounds contained in it, as well as obesity, physical exertion and diet. To date, this method of analysis is not available for commercial use, but is being actively tested by researchers.

DNA methylation consists in attaching a complex of molecules to a gene, which makes it more or less susceptible to biochemical signals of the body. At the same time, the gene itself, that is, the DNA code encoded in it, does not change.

For the first time, the authors analyzed the relationship between the difference for epigenetic and chronological age and the risk of developing cancer, as well as the risk of death from cancer, using a large number of blood samples collected over an extended period of time. This made it possible to study changes in epigenetic age over time, which made it possible to more accurately assess epigenetic age and its relationship with cancer risk. Earlier studies used blood samples collected at the same time.

In total, the researchers analyzed 834 blood samples taken from 442 participants from 1999 to 2013. During the sampling, no malignant neoplasms were detected in the participants.

Analysis of the data obtained showed that each year, added to the difference between epigenetic and chronological age, corresponded to an increase in the risk of developing cancer over the next 3 years by 6%. At the same time, the risk of death from cancer increased by 17% every year for 5 years.

The authors note that the assessment of the difference between epigenetic and chronological age has great potential as a method for assessing the general state of human health at the molecular level. They are currently exploring potential methods to reduce epigenetic age by making lifestyle changes, such as exercising and improving diet.

Article by Yinan Zheng et al. Blood Epigenetic Age may Predict Cancer Incident and Mortality is published in the journal EBioMedicine.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of Northwestern University: New Predictor of Cance r.


Found a typo? Select it and press ctrl + enter Print version