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Tiny Telomeres May Predict Cancer Risk

May 31st, 2017

The biological processes that lead to cancer are complicated and not fully known, but researchers are finding that even the tiniest parts of the body can predict cancer risk—and play a role in the development of cancer treatment. The tips of chromosomes in DNA are protected by “caps” called telomeres. New research reveals that the length of these telomeres may predict cancer risk. According to research led by Jian-Min Yuan, MD, PhD (Epidemiology, Pitt Public Health and Arnold Palmer Professor in Cancer Prevention at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute), longer-than-expected telomeres—which get shorter every time a cell divides—are associated with an increased cancer risk. Researchers hope that finding a way to keep telomeres at a healthy length may lead to future cancer treatments.

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