(Image source: National Cancer Institute) BY ELIZABETH HAGEDORN Scientists say they’ve now linked a type of
blood cancer to the gene that controls aging. A new study published in the journal Nature
Genetics found a genetic variant in the gene responsible for the aging process could raise
the likelihood of developing multiple myeloma by as much as 50 percent. (Via WNAC)
The gene, known as TERC, acts as a cell’s internal clock. In those with a variant of
this gene, cancer cells ignore the aging trigger and divide uncontrollably in the bone marrow.
(Via Mayo Clinic) Myeloma can affect a person’s immune system
and kidneys, along with causing severe joint pain and brittle bones. (Via NBC) Each year, some 4,700 people are diagnosed
with myeloma. About 30 percent of those patients die within a year. (Via KJFX) One of the study’s authors said: “We know
cancer often seems to ignore the usual controls over aging and cell death, and it will be
fascinating to explore whether in blood cancers that is a result of a direct genetic lin.” (Via
U.S. News & World Report) But a geneticist cautions carrying the variant
is only a risk factor, telling Everyday Health: “Having a variation doesn’t [mean] that you’re
100 percent going to get cancer … But we don’t know for sure how much higher your risk
is.” The researchers hope they can use their findings
to identify new sources of treatment for myeloma.