Genetics of Mammographic Density in Ashkenazi Jews
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Mammographic density (MD) is a strong risk factor for breast cancer and is also a highly heritable trait with ~60-70% of the variance due to genetic factors, based on twin studies. MD is also higher in families with a strong history of breast cancer. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which focus on common genetic variants, have identified several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with MD. However, these SNPs explain a very small fraction of the variance of MD, suggesting many other genes are involved. Thus, the vast majority of the heritability of mammographic density remains unexplained and may be explained, at least in part, by rare variants.
Ashkenazi Jewish women are a founder population; founder populations frequently have alleles affecting phenotypes which may be unique and/or extremely rare in other populations. Prior reports have identified an association between higher mammographic density and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. Therefore, we developed a study of mammographic density in AJ women. We combined datasets from several different ... (Show More)