Mohn Cancer Research Laboratory

Methylation and cancer risk

Main content

The potential role of epigenetic changes in healthy cells with respect to risk of cancer later in life is controversial.

We have recently made a major breakthrough in this field. By combining studies of patients with established tumours with population-based studies, we have shown that abnormal methylation of the BRCA1 gene in some of the cells in the body, give a significantly higher risk of developing breast- and ovarian cancer later in life.

We have also demonstrated that the methylation of BRCA1 occurs early in the embryonic stage of development and that it affects many different organs in the body. We are aiming to pinpoint the direct link between BRCA1 methylation in normal cells and the clonal expansion of such cells towards tumours in affected individuals.


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Figur som viser metylering i foster, barn og voksne
Illustration: Stian Knappskog/BioRender.com