Health

Breast cancer genes may cause heart disease

Women who are at higher risk of breast cancer may have another threat to contend with: heart disease, suggests new Canadian research.

Mutated BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes may prevent regrowth of heart muscle

Women who are at higher risk of breast cancer may have another threat to contend with: heart disease, suggests new Canadian research.

The BRCA1 And BRCA2 genes, which normally regulate the growth of breast and ovarian tumours, are mutated in some women. In their mutated form, they allow breast and ovarian tumours to grow.

These mutated genes may also be responsible for regulating heart function, researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto have found in studies on mice.

"We now understand that breast cancer and heart disease — the two leading causes of death for Canadian women — have a common biological basis, a common soil," said Dr. Subodh Verma, a cardiac surgeon at St. Michael's Hospital and an author of the study, in a release.

Mice who had the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes had heart attacks that were twice as severe as those in mice without the genes. They also had a three to five times greater risk of dying after a heart attack.

And twice as many mice with the mutated genes suffered heart failure as mice without them after being treated with the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin.

The mutated genes may halt DNA repair in muscles cells delaying recovery from a heart attack, researchers noted.

The study was published Tuesday in the journals Nature Communications and Journal of Biological Chemistry.