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Page last updated at 09:06 GMT, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 10:06 UK

Epigenetics: The key to cancer?


New research published in this month's Cancer Research journal has uncovered the first strong evidence that molecular or "epigenetic" changes in the way genes are expressed can be associated with breast cancer risk and can be detected many years before breast cancer develops.

Dr James Flanagan, the Breast Cancer Campaign scientific fellow at Imperial College, London, says the aim is to set-up a "ground-breaking" molecular test to assess the risk levels of individuals which would help decrease the mortality rate.

Prof Nessa Carey, author of The Epigenetics Revolution, says that breakthroughs in epigenetics mean we learning to better read our "instruction manual".

DNA is like a script for a play, and epigenetics tries to understand how it is performed on stage, she explained.

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