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Br J Cancer. 2001 November; 85(11): 1675–1679.
PMCID: PMC2363968

Consanguinity decreases risk of breast cancer – cervical cancer unaffected

Abstract

Marriages between third-degree and more distant relatives are common in many parts of the world. Offspring of consanguineous parents have increased morbidity and mortality related to recessive gene disorders. In a population with a high frequency of consanguinity, we examined the frequency of breast cancer (related in part to tumour genes) and cervical cancers (related to virus infection) among offspring of consanguineous and non-consanguineous parents. Study was done prospectively in the United Arab Emirates. Selected were married female citizens, ages 40–65, who attended 12 primary health care clinics for whatever reason. In a face-to-face interview, subjects were asked: (a) about consanguineous marriages in family; (b) if they have or have had breast or cervical cancer; (c) about family history of cancer, cancer screening and other parameters. Tumour diagnosis was confirmed by review of medical records. Of 1750 women invited into study, 1445 (79%) could be used in analysis. Among 579 (40%) women of consanguineous and 866 (60%) of non-consanguineous parents there were 24 and 54 with breast cancer, respectively (RR = 0.66, CI 0.42 – 1.06). In the 40 to 50 age group, breast cancer reported 13 of 446 women of consanguineous and 37 of 633 of non-consanguineous parents (RR = 0.50, Cl 0.27 – 0.93). Cervical cancer had 15 women in consanguineous and 32 in non-consanguineous group (RR = 0.70, Cl 0.38 – 1.28). Number of families with history of breast cancer in consanguineous and non-consanguineous group was 21 and 23, respectively (P = 0.29). The cancer screening rates and other variable values had fairly balanced distribution between the 2 groups. Having consanguineous parents decreases the risk of breast cancer especially in younger women, risk of cervical cancer being unaffected. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign http://www.bjcancer.com

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